Congress reaches deal on disaster aid

 
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyMcConnell to force vote next week on Trump border funding request McConnell to force vote next week on Trump border funding request The Hill's Morning Report - Is US weighing military action against Iran? 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 LankfordOvernight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission MORE (Okla.), Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerHillicon Valley: Democratic state AGs sue to block T-Mobile-Sprint merger | House kicks off tech antitrust probe | Maine law shakes up privacy debate | Senators ask McConnell to bring net neutrality to a vote Hillicon Valley: Democratic state AGs sue to block T-Mobile-Sprint merger | House kicks off tech antitrust probe | Maine law shakes up privacy debate | Senators ask McConnell to bring net neutrality to a vote Lawmakers demand answers on Border Patrol data breach 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 LoweyHouse panel wraps up final 2020 spending bill as Senate lags House panel wraps up final 2020 spending bill as Senate lags On The Money: Democrats set stage for next shutdown fight | House panel wraps up final 2020 spending bill | GOP senators, White House delay meeting on spending | Trump hits Fed over high interest rates 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 McConnellJon Stewart rips into McConnell for saying he's 'bent out of shape' over 9/11 victim fund Jon Stewart rips into McConnell for saying he's 'bent out of shape' over 9/11 victim fund Tensions with Iran reach new stage over uranium threat MORE (R-Ky.) warned on Thursday that he would force a vote regardless of whether there was an agreement, increasing pressure on negotiators.