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Senate Asks for $36.5B Disaster Relief 10/23 05:26

   The Senate is pushing ahead on a $36.5 billion hurricane relief package that 
would give Puerto Rico a much-needed infusion of cash but rejects requests from 
the powerful Texas and Florida congressional delegations for additional money 
to rebuild after hurricanes Harvey and Irma. 

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate is pushing ahead on a $36.5 billion hurricane 
relief package that would give Puerto Rico a much-needed infusion of cash.

   The measure also would replenish rapidly dwindling emergency disaster 
accounts and provide $16 billion to permit the financially troubled federal 
flood insurance program to pay an influx of Harvey-related claims. But it 
rejects requests from the powerful Texas and Florida congressional delegations 
for additional money to rebuild after hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

   The measure was certain to sail through Monday's procedural vote and a final 
vote was expected no later than Tuesday. That would send the measure to 
President Donald Trump for his signature.

   There is urgency to move the measure swiftly -- rather than add more money 
to it at this time -- because the government's flood insurance reserves are 
running out.

   Still, members of the Texas and Florida delegations in Congress are unhappy 
because the measure failed to address extensive requests for additional 
hurricane rebuilding funds. Texas, inundated by Harvey in August, requested $19 
billion, while Florida sought $27 billion.

   "I'm pretty disappointed with what the House sent over," Texas GOP Sen. John 
Cornyn said Thursday. But later, after speaking to both Trump and White House 
budget director Mick Mulvaney, Cornyn said he was promised that the White House 
would issue another disaster aid measure next month that would provide 
much-needed help for Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. A fourth, and perhaps 
final, measure is likely to anchor a year-end spending bill.

   The measure currently before the Senate contains $577 million for wildfires 
out West that forced agencies to tap other reserves for firefighting accounts 
and FEMA money for the disastrous fires in northern California.

   Republicans dragged their feet last year on modest requests by former 
President Barack Obama to combat the Zika virus and help Flint, Michigan, 
repair its lead-tainted water system. But they are moving quickly to take care 
of this year's alarming series of disasters, quickly passing a $15.3 billion 
relief measure last month and signaling that another installment is coming next 
month.


(KA)

 
 
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