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WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday, for the third time in a week, failed to pass a Senate-approved $19 billion bill providing disaster aid funding to parts of the United States hit by hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes and wildfires after another Republican lawmaker blocked the measure.
Rep. John Rose, R-Tenn., objected to a request Thursday afternoon to pass the measure by unanimous consent during a pro forma session. If it 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 the Memorial Day recess. Democrats are expected to hold a roll-call vote on the bill on Monday next week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Thursday, once members return to Washington.
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"I am standing in a House chamber that is virtually empty," Rose said on the floor Thursday. "Nearly all of my 431 colleagues are absent as the speaker of the House seeks to pass a $19 billion spending bill. Our nation is $22 trillion in debt. Trying to pass nearly $20 billion in new spending while the majority of Congress is not even in Washington reflects another act of irresponsible big government."
The Senate passed the bill last Thursday in a 85-8 vote, and Trump has signed off on the parameters of the agreement, 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 allocated only $40 billion for the island's recovery and most of it hasn't arrived yet.