Lone House Republican Blocks Passage of Bipartisan Disaster Relief Bill

May 24, 2019 by Sean Trambley
U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) listens during a House Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee hearing on confronting white supremacy at the U.S. Capitol on May 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. During the hearing, subcommittee members and witnesses discussed the impact on the communities most victimized and targeted by white supremacists. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/TNS)

In a stunning move Friday, a solitary House Republican from the Freedom Caucus blocked the passage of a $19.1 billion disaster aid package providing aid to Americans hit by wildfires, floods, and hurricanes, including $1.4 billion for Puerto Rico.

The funding passed the Senate on Thursday after months of delays stemming from demands by President Donald Trump to include $4.5 billion in border wall funding and balking at additional funding to Puerto Rico.

After long negotiations that garnered approval from Trump and Senate Republicans, the political fight seemed all but over. The bill was expected to pass the House yesterday by unanimous consent and head to the president’s desk for his signature before both chambers left for the long Memorial Day holiday weekend and two week congressional recess.

The process of unanimous consent allows any proposal to pass by voice vote as long as no member objects and is used frequently for non-controversial legislation.

But Representative Chip Moore, R-Texas, did object, calling the process “swampy,” and demanded a recorded vote.

Commenting to Roll Call, he said, “The people, particularly in Texas, but people generally, are tired of the swamp, and this is a very swampy thing to do — have a vote on a Friday heading into Memorial Day weekend and after we recess, when we could have done our job yesterday when we had 435 members of Congress who should be here and should vote.”

The delay means that people in California, Puerto Rico, and even Texas will likely have to wait two weeks before the House can take a recorded vote on the disaster aid package, further delaying much needed relief.

It is ultimately expected to pass and head directly to the president’s desk for signature, despite the additional delay.

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