Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump

 
Senators voted 85-8 on the legislation, which provides $19.1 billion in recovery money for a recent slate of wildfires, hurricanes and storms. GOP Sens. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnCongress set for showdown with Trump over Kurds GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe Hillicon Valley: Iranian hacking operation targeted campaign, government accounts | House panel pushes Zuckerberg to testify on Libra | Trump officials step up attacks on Facebook encryption MORE (Tenn.), Mike BraunMichael BraunHillicon Valley: Senate Intel report urges action to prevent 2020 Russian meddling | Republicans warn Microsoft of 'urgent' Huawei threat | Court rules FBI surveillance violated Americans' rights GOP senators warn Microsoft of 'urgent' threat from Huawei Senate passes stopgap spending bill, sending it to Trump MORE (Ind.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoGOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe Nearing finish line, fight for cannabis banking bill shifts to the Senate On The Money: Trump strikes trade deal with Japan on farm goods | GOP senator to meet Trump amid spending stalemate | House passes cannabis banking bill | Judge issues one-day pause on subpoena for Trump's tax returns MORE (Idaho), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe McConnell warns Trump against withdrawing troops from Syria The American people deserve a debate about Ukrainian military aid MORE (Utah), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Republicans wrestle with impeachment strategy Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Planned Parenthood charges into 2020 | PhRMA CEO warns against Pelosi drug pricing bill | Medicaid work requirements costing states millions MORE (Ariz.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul calls for probe of Democrats over Ukraine letter Sunday Show Preview: Trump's allies and administration defend decision on Syria Ana Navarro clashes with Rand Paul in fiery exchange: 'Don't mansplain!' MORE (Ky.), Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria McConnell warns NBA to respect free speech on China Issa's Senate confirmation hearing delayed over concerns about background check MORE (Idaho) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyVideo of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Reid warns Democrats not to underestimate Trump McConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows MORE (Utah) voted against the bill.
 
The House has already left for the weeklong Memorial Day recess. But a Democratic leadership aide said the caucus supports the measure and hopes to clear it by unanimous consent on Friday. 
 
The Senate's vote came hours after GOP Sens. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyMeet Trump's most trusted pollsters Contractors fight for pay from last shutdown — and the next one Trump signs stopgap measure, funding government through November MORE (Ala.) and David Perdue (Ga.) talked on the phone with Trump, a conversation in which, according to GOP lawmakers, he told them he would support the bill without the immigration-related language that was a major sticking point to an agreement. 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"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.
 
The deal, according to a GOP appropriations aide, includes a total of $19.1 billion for disaster recovery. 
 
In a win for Democrats, it also includes $600 million in food stamp money for Puerto Rico and an additional $300 million in Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants for the island territory. 
 
The Senate's original disaster bill, which included only the food stamp funding, derailed after Trump criticized Puerto Rico's handling of recovery money during a closed-door GOP lunch. Lawmakers acknowledged earlier this week that they had finalized that portion of the package. 
 
 
Thursday's vote is a U-turn from Wednesday evening when chances of getting a deal before the week-long Memorial Day recess appeared to be slipping as top negotiators canceled a meeting amid a standoff over how much of Trump's request for emergency border money to put in the bill. 
 
The White House's $4.5 billion border money request included $3.3 billion for humanitarian assistance. About $1.1 billion would go toward operations such as expanding the number of detention beds and providing more investigation resources.  
 
Democrats were on board with including billions in humanitarian aid for the U.S.-Mexico border but had left Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) funding out of their previous offers because it's considered a non-starter for the caucus. Republicans, meanwhile, were accusing Democrats of trying to use the disaster bill to impose new immigration-related restrictions on the administration. 
 
Immigration has emerged as a lightning rod issue during the Trump administration, with both chambers rejecting multiple immigration and border proposals since 2017 and under pressure from their bases to draw red lines for any agreement. 
 
A senior Democratic aide added on Thursday that Democrats secured language in the disaster aid agreement to prohibit the new funding in the package from being transferred to things that were not specifically appropriated for, including the president’s wall.
 
"It does not include the humanitarian assistance for the border, which is a real problem, obviously, since they're in trouble being overrun with so many kids," said Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordMcConnell support for election security funds leaves Dems declaring victory Election security funds passed by Senate seen as welcome first step Senate committee approves 0 million for state election security efforts MORE (R-Okla.) of the final agreement. 
 
But Shelby indicated that appropriators would circle back to the president's request once Congress returns to Washington in June. 
 
"We took it all out … [but] we're going to try to push that separately when we come back," Shelby said. "It's needed, but we're sticking with disaster now."
ADVERTISEMENT
 
Trump, asked about the disaster aid bill, told reporters during a farm aid event that he had been told he would get the immigration-related funding later.
 
"We’re going to get the immigration money later, according to everybody. I have to take care of my farmers with the disaster relief. If I didn’t do that — I mean, really, it’s a long time in coming," Trump said.
 
Trump added, "We'll take care of the immigration later. The wall is being built.”
 
Shelby told reporters that he told Trump that the Senate would take back up his emergency funding request in June, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) likely to bring it straight to the floor. If the chamber is going to pass a bill granting additional border money it will take 60 votes, including support from Democrats.
 
Aides had indicated on Thursday morning that immigration was still a sticking point that was making it difficult to get to an agreement.
 

"If we can't come to an agreement this morning on other extraneous issues that the House is discussing, we should set those issues to the side," Schumer said. "We should pass the disaster agreement as is."

The idea quickly gained traction with senators — including Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Five ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble Rubio criticizes Warren response on same-sex marriage opposition as condescending MORE (R-Fla.) and Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonJoe Lieberman's son running for Senate in Georgia Poll: Majority of independent voters want GOP to retain control of Senate in 2020 Embracing President Mike Pence might be GOP's best play MORE (R-Ga.) — from states impacted by a recent spate of storms. 

But it wasn't clear until after a closed-door GOP lunch that Trump would back the agreement, and House members spent the morning feuding over the lack of a disaster aid deal. 

House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Five ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble Cheney slated to introduce bill to place sanctions on Turkey MORE (R-La.) blasted Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden on impeachment: 'I'm the only reason' it's happening Democrats to offer resolution demanding Trump reverse Syria decision Rand Paul calls for probe of Democrats over Ukraine letter MORE (D-Calif.) for allowing the House to recess on Thursday without holding a vote on a disaster relief package, alleging the California Democrat allowed members of her caucus’ calls for impeachment to get in the way of negotiating a bipartisan deal.
 
“We're incredibly disappointed that Speaker Pelosi is going to gavel out today without addressing disaster relief. We've been trying for months to get help to our farmers, to families who've been suffering, and there was a lot of effort made to try to get an agreement done before we left,” he told reporters.
 
Scalise didn’t rule out supporting a bipartisan deal agreed upon in the Senate, telling reporters: “However, we can get this job done and help these families. We ought to do it.”

—Juliegrace Brufke contributed