Senate sends $36.5 billion disaster relief bill to Trump’s desk
The Senate easily cleared a disaster relief bill on Tuesday, sending the legislation to President Trump’s desk.
Senators voted 82-17 on the House-passed measure, which includes help for the response to a string of wildfires and trio of hurricanes.
Each of the 17 “no” votes came from Republicans, including Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Mike Lee (Utah), among others.
Senators rejected an uphill bid from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to include an offset that would pay for the more than $36 billion in funding.
“You’ll find often that it’s easy to be compassionate with someone else’s money. But it’s not only that. It’s not only compassion with someone else’s money. It’s compassion with money that doesn’t even exist, money that’s borrowed,” Paul said during a speech from the Senate floor.
The bill, which passed the House earlier this month, would provide $36.5 billion to fund hurricane relief, a flood insurance program and wildfire recovery efforts in the West.
That includes $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund, $16 billion to address national flood insurance program debt and $576.5 million for wildfire recovery efforts. It also provided $1.27 billion for disaster food assistance for Puerto Rico.
Tuesday’s passage of the disaster relief bill comes after Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) tried to add more money to the legislation to help with the recovery efforts for hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria.
His request was blocked, as expected, by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“I hope he knows the Senate remains committed to doing its part to support the ongoing hurricane relief efforts. We all see this as a multistage process. … There will be additional rounds, and we are all fully committed to meeting the needs that have arisen as a result of these devastating hurricanes,” McConnell said, explaining his reason for objecting.
Senators had mulled adding more financial help to the bill but, after getting clarification from the Trump administration about future disaster relief, decided to pass it as is.