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
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