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 BlackburnTaylor Swift defends staying out of the 2016 election: 'I just knew I wasn't going to help' The 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal Senate passes sweeping budget deal, sending it to Trump MORE (Tenn.), Mike BraunMichael BraunOvernight Energy: Trump EPA looks to change air pollution permit process | GOP senators propose easing Obama water rule | Green group sues EPA over lead dust rules The 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal Pair of GOP senators propose easing Obama water rule MORE (Ind.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoA US-UK free trade agreement can hold the Kremlin to account Oversight Republicans demand answers on Capital One data breach On The Money: Fed cuts rates for first time since financial crisis | Trump rips Fed after chief casts doubt on future cuts | Stocks slide | Senate kicks budget vote amid scramble for GOP support MORE (Idaho), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeMcConnell, allies lean into Twitter, media 'war' Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid MORE (Utah), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump searches for backstops amid recession worries Arizona poll shows Kelly overtaking McSally Fighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate MORE (Ariz.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGraham promises ObamaCare repeal if Trump, Republicans win in 2020 Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Rand Paul to 'limit' August activities due to health MORE (Ky.), Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischTrump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China Overnight Defense: US exits landmark arms control treaty with Russia | Pentagon vows to 'fully pursue' once-banned missiles | Ratcliffe out as intel pick | Trump signs budget deal that boosts defense | Trump defends North Korea's Kim as 'friend' The 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal MORE (Idaho) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyA US-UK free trade agreement can hold the Kremlin to account Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Overnight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces 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 ShelbyIn-space refueling vs heavy lift? NASA and SpaceX choose both Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown Trump border fight throws curveball into shutdown prospects 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. 
 
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"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.
 
 
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."
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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 RubioTrump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE (R-Fla.) and Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonGeorgia senator discharged from hospital after fall Georgia senator hospitalized after fall Senate GOP raises concerns about White House stopgap plan to avoid shutdown 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 ScaliseManchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Sunday shows - Trump's Epstein conspiracy theory retweet grabs spotlight Sanders: Trump doesn't 'want to see somebody get shot' but 'creates the climate for it' MORE (R-La.) blasted Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiJohnson eyes Irish border in Brexit negotiations Mueller report fades from political conversation Five key players in Trump's trade battles 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