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Disaster relief bill fails in Senate

A partially rebuilt home in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, in September 2018 Associated Press/Photo by Ramon Espinosa (file)

Disaster relief bill fails in Senate

WASHINGTON—A Republican-backed disaster relief bill failed to garner the 60 votes needed to move forward in the Senate on Monday due to a squabble about aid to Puerto Rico. Democrats opposed the measure, asking for an additional $700 million for U.S. territory’s hurricane recovery efforts. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., criticized the Trump administration for being slow to release the funds Congress designated for Puerto Rico after hurricanes ravaged it in 2017. He said the administration is withholding $20 billion. Lawmakers have already authorized $41 billion for the island.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged lawmakers to focus on the current bill’s purpose: “This is no time for our colleagues across the aisle to prioritize a political fight with the president ahead of the urgent needs of communities across our country.”

The bill would give $13.5 billion in disaster relief to Southern farmers and California communities devastated by last summer’s wildfires. It would help rebuild hurricane-hit states like Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina and open up funding for flood-ravaged Midwestern states such as Nebraska and Iowa. The House passed an almost identical measure in January, but the Senate bill includes new relief for flooded states.

In a series of tweets Monday, President Donald Trump lambasted Democrats for the vote, saying they were “taking dollars away from our Farmers and so many others!” He also criticized Puerto Rican leadership, arguing that San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz had wasted the aid already given and calling her “crazed and incompetent.” Cruz fired back on Twitter, saying the president “is unhinged & thus lies about the $ received” by Puerto Rico.

Harvest Prude

Harvest is a former political reporter for WORLD’s Washington Bureau. She is a World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College graduate.



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