A Senate-passed disaster aid bill, covering this year’s historic Midwest floods, finally cleared the U.S. House Monday, after enough Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the bill.
A majority of House Republicans broke ranks with conservatives, giving Democrats the two-thirds majority needed to pass the $19-billion disaster aid bill under rules for expedited action.
Conservatives, three-times during the Memorial Day recess, blocked the unanimous-consent needed to approve the Senate-passed measure that President Trump says he will sign.
They objected to voting on the unpaid-for bill with most members gone during the recess, and Democrats’ refusal to provide administration-requested humanitarian border aid.
Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer pushed back…
The measure includes $3-billion for farm related losses of crops, dairy, on-farm stored crops, prevented planting and more, covering the historic Midwest floods and earlier storms in the Southeast and Puerto Rico, and wildfires in the West.
The legislation was earlier delayed in the Senate over new Puerto Rico hurricane aid, including food stamps.
President Trump argued existing aid was mismanaged, but agreed to the food stamp money, and Republicans added new redevelopment aid, winning enough support from Democrats to pass the bill by a wide margin in the Senate.
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed legislation to provide assistance for presidentially declared disasters, including the March 2019 “bomb cyclone” which struck Nebraska. This vote came after the Senate recently voted in favor of this bill, and will now be sent to the President’s desk.
“I am glad we were able to come together and provide much needed relief to areas of our country, including Nebraska, which have been so devastated by natural disasters. We can now push further ahead with recovery efforts. Thousands of Nebraskans were affected by blizzards, rain, wind, and flooding, and this is another step as we rebuild.”
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) made the following statement today on the House passage of the disaster assistance package.
“I am pleased that the House has passed this funding bill so that assistance can soon reach the individuals, communities, and military installations, such as Offutt, in need of this relief. This is great news for Nebraskans and others who have been affected by natural disasters in recent months. Clearly, much more work and funding is necessary, but this legislation is a meaningful step forward as we continue the flood recovery efforts.”
The final version of the disaster relief bill includes a number of provisions that are of particular importance to Nebraska. “I worked with my colleagues to add funds to the military operations and maintenance account with the intentionality that as much as $120 million will go to the immediate cleanup and operational needs of Offutt Air Force Base,” Fortenberry said. “I also helped to provide additional funds for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program to restore scarred lands and infrastructure. This important relief for our nation’s environmental security will reshape eroded stream banks, repair water control structures, fix levees, and restore conservation priorities,” Fortenberry added. Among other items, the legislation also provides funds for emergency conservation projects on farms, levee repairs, and highway reconstruction.
Fortenberry said, “Nebraskans are resilient, determined, and generous. This federal assistance will help accelerate the recovery work of communities and individuals and allow Nebraska to remain strong.”