Congress finally passes Hurricane Michael aid

Hurricane Michael survivors after the storm. #neverforgottencoast documentary project

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Monday voted to approve a massive $19.1 billion disaster aid bill that includes money for Hurricane Michael recovery efforts in Florida.

The sweeping package — which will also fund disaster recovery efforts in other states and territories — passed the House with broad bipartisan support after being stalled by a series of political delays.

The funding was delayed for months as lawmakers sparred with President Trump over whether to include funding for Puerto Rico recovery (it was ultimately included despite Trump’s resistance). And the administration sought to include border security funding, which was ultimately dropped from the bill.

The Senate passed the measure late last month, sending it to the House. But House Republicans objected to Democrats’ efforts to pass the bill via “unanimous consent” after most lawmakers had left town for the Memorial Day recess. Republicans cited a desire for more debate over the sweeping bill and pushed to include border wall funding as their rationale for delaying the vote.

As they returned Monday night from the recess, House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to pass the bill.

The package would provide more than $4.6 billion to reimburse farmers hurt by floods, storms and other disasters, Roll Call reported. It also includes $3.25 billion for Army Corps of Engineers flood control projects and $3.17 billion to help rebuild military bases impacted by Hurricane Michael and other disasters.

Puerto Rico is slated to receive more than $1 billion in the bill, which Trump is now expected to sign.

Florida lawmakers cheered its passage.

“Americans had to wait too long for the disaster relief we finally passed today,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a South Florida Democrat, wrote on Twitter. “Aiding our communities recovering from natural disasters should never be a partisan issue. This $19.1 billion dollars of relief will provide urgent, necessary assistance.”

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