House fails to pass disaster aid bill after second GOP lawmaker objects

For the second time in less than a week, the House on Tuesday failed to pass the Senate-passed $19 billion disaster aid bill after a lone Republican objected to the measure.
Image: Thomas Massie
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., objected to a request Tuesday to pass the disaster aid bill by unanimous consent during a pro forma session. Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call/ Getty Images

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By Rebecca Shabad and Frank Thorp V

WASHINGTON — For the second time in less than a week, the House on Tuesday failed to pass the Senate-approved $19 billion bill providing disaster aid funding to parts of the United States hit by hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes and wildfires after a Republican lawmaker objected.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., objected to a request to pass the measure by unanimous consent during a pro forma session. If the bill had passed, it would have gone straight to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature. Most lawmakers are back home in their districts this week for a weeklong Memorial Day recess.

"The speaker of the House should have called a vote on this bill before sending every member of Congress on recess for 10 days, and I object," Massie said on the floor.

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House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters afterward that the chamber will again attempt to pass the bill by unanimous consent Thursday. If it's blocked once again, the full House would be poised to pass the bill when lawmakers return the week of June 3.

"House Republicans need to immediately end this shameful sabotage, and allow the House to pass the bill that the bipartisan Senate has finally agreed to," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. "How many more communities need to suffer before Republicans end their political games?”

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., slammed Massie's move Tuesday on Twitter, calling it an example of a politician "putting their own self-interest ahead of the national interest."

On Friday, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, objected during a similar vote, saying the bill didn't address the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and that it was not paid for.

"Our nation is strong enough, and compassionate enough, to have a responsive and fiscally responsive approach to help people who are hurting in the wake of natural disasters," he said.

The Senate passed the bill last Thursday in a 85-8 vote after a deal was struck among negotiators. Trump signed off on the parameters of the agreement Thursday afternoon, which excludes $4.5 billion in border funding that the White House and the Republicans kept demanding.

The bill would provide about $900 million to Puerto Rico, which was ravaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017. That money would go toward nutrition assistance and a community development block grant, both of which were key Democratic priorities.

Funding for Puerto Rico had long been a sticking point in negotiations because Trump was opposed to giving the territory more aid. In April, he falsely claimed on Twitter that “Puerto Rico got 91 billion dollars for the hurricane" when the federal government had only allocated $40 billion for the island's recovery and most of it hasn't yet arrived.