Congress reaches deal on disaster aid

Congress has reached a deal on a "clean" disaster aid bill, after President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE told lawmakers he would sign legislation even if money tied to the U.S.-Mexico border was dropped from the package.
 
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate GOP braces for impeachment trial 'roller coaster' McConnell tees up government funding votes amid stalemate GOP warns Graham letter to Pelosi on impeachment could 'backfire' MORE (R-Ala.) said on Thursday afternoon that they had reached an agreement on the long-stalled legislation to respond to a recent spate of wildfires, hurricanes and storms.
 
"We've proposed … that we come forth with a clean disaster package, a lot of things off including border security stuff, just disaster, basically. And the president said OK," Shelby told reporters after a closed-door GOP lunch.
 
GOP Sens. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordTrump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump insists Turkey wants cease-fire | Fighting continues in Syrian town | Pentagon chief headed to Mideast | Mattis responds to criticism from Trump Senate GOP braces for impeachment trial 'roller coaster' MORE (Okla.), Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg defends handling of misinformation in political ads | Biden camp hits Zuckerberg over remarks | Dem bill would jail tech execs for lying about privacy | Consumer safety agency accidentally disclosed personal data Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes MORE (Miss.) and Rick Scott (Fla.) also confirmed that it was their understanding Trump would sign a bill that included only disaster money.
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The Senate is expected to vote on the agreement Thursday before leaving town for the weeklong Memorial Day recess. Shelby noted that he had spoken with House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyTrump officials say aid to Puerto Rico was knowingly stalled after Hurricane Maria McConnell tees up government funding votes amid stalemate Dem committee chairs blast Trump G-7 announcement MORE (D-N.Y.), who was supportive of the deal, but stopped short of saying if the House would be able to pass it Thursday.
 
Evan Hollander, Lowey's spokesman on the Appropriations Committee, said Lowey is supporting the agreement and wants to pass it through the House "as soon as possible."
 
"Chairwoman Lowey is pleased that President Trump and Republicans have agreed to bipartisan, comprehensive disaster relief legislation that will meet urgent needs across the country. If the Senate passes the legislation today, House Democrats support clearing it through the House as soon as possible," he said.
 
If the Senate was able to pass a disaster-only bill, the House — which is poised to leave town Thursday — could pass the legislation by a voice vote.

A Democratic leadership aide said the caucus supports the legislation and is hoping to pass it by consent on Friday.

The deal, according to a GOP appropriations aide, will include $19.1 billion for disaster recovery, including $600 million in food stamp money for Puerto Rico and an additional $300 million in Housing and Urban Development grants for the island territory.

The breakthrough came after Shelby and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) spoke with Trump over the phone earlier Thursday afternoon as Republicans jockeyed to get the White House's support for a pared-down disaster only bill.

Negotiators had been stuck for days over how much of the administration's $4.5 billion request for emergency border money to include in a package. The thorny issue includes political landmines like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and detention bed funding.

Democrats had agreed to include billions in humanitarian aid tied to the border, but rejected additional ICE or detention bed funding. Republicans, meanwhile, accused Democrats of trying to use the disaster bill to include new limitations on Trump's immigration actions. 
 
Shelby suggested that lawmakers would try to pass the border money once they return from recess in June. 
 
"We took it all out … [but] we're going to try push that separately when we come back. It's needed, but we're sticking with disaster now," Shelby said. 
 
The agreement is a U-turn from Wednesday evening, when lawmakers looked increasingly likely to have to punt the disaster aid deal into June amid the immigration fight. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate Fox's Wallace says 'well-connected' Republican told him there's a 20 percent chance GOP will vote for impeachment White House staggers after tumultuous 48 hours MORE (R-Ky.) warned on Thursday that he would force a vote regardless of whether there was an agreement, increasing pressure on negotiators.