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Disaster relief passes in Congress

by Harvest Prude
Posted 6/04/19, 11:28 am

WASHINGTON—The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill Monday evening, sending the measure to President Donald Trump, who will likely sign it. The measure cleared the House in a 354-58 vote after the Senate passed it 85-8 last month. The president, who is on a five-day visit to the United Kingdom and Europe, may choose to authorize the legislation via a signature machine called the autopen. Former President Barack Obama became the first president to have aides use the autopen to sign legislation, but the machine has long been used for other non-legislative purposes.

The disaster relief measure cleared Congress after months of partisan bickering over what should be included in the package. Democrats insisted on including aid to Puerto Rico, something Trump initially said he would not support. After weeks of negotiations, the final measure allotted about $900 million for the U.S. territory devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

The Trump administration tried to include $4.5 billion to address the uptick in migration at the U.S.-Mexico border, but Senate Republicans agreed to pass the bill without it.

The package designates billions in grants and reimbursements for communities that are recovering from disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and wildfires. Around $3 billion will go to farmers who have lost crops or missed planting season due to disasters. The package allows California communities ravaged by wildfires to apply for grant money and designates almost $16 million for the Department of Interior’s fire remediation efforts.


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Harvest Prude

Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.

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