Congress finally sends $19B disaster aid bill to Trump

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., second from right, leaves the House chamber, Monday June 3, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington, after the House voted to approve a $19 billion disaster aid bill, breaking a conservative blockade and sending the measure to President Trump, who is expected to sign it. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., leaves a ceremonial swearing in outside the House chamber, Monday June 3, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington, just after the House voted to approve a $19 billion disaster aid bill, breaking a conservative blockade and sending the measure to President Trump, who is expected to sign it. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
  • Water from the Mississippi River floods Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard, Saturday, June 1, 2019, in St. Louis. The Mississippi River is expected to rise several more feet by midweek. (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

WASHINGTON — A long-delayed $19.1 billion disaster aid bill sailed through the House on Monday and headed to President Donald Trump for his expected signature, overcoming months of infighting, misjudgment and a feud between Trump and congressional Democrats.

Lawmakers gave the measure final congressional approval by 354-58 in the House’s first significant action after returning from a 10-day recess. It was backed by all 222 voting Democrats and 132 Republicans, including the GOP’s top leaders and many of its legislators from areas hit by hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and fires. Fifty-eight Republicans voted “no,” including many of the party’s most conservative members.

Trump hailed passage of the bill, tweeting, “Farmers, Puerto Rico and all will be very happy.” The president also suggested, incorrectly, that the bill would now see action in the Senate. That chamber had already passed the bill by a sweeping 85-8 vote on its way out of Washington May 23, a margin that reflected a consensus that the bill is long overdue.

But conservative Republicans in the House held up the bill last week, objecting on three occasions to efforts by Democratic leaders to pass the bill by a voice vote requiring unanimity. They said the legislation — which reflects an increasingly permissive attitude in Washington on spending to address disasters that sooner or later hit every region of the country — shouldn’t be rushed through without a recorded vote.

Along the way, House and Senate old-timers seemed to outmaneuver the White House, though Trump personally prevailed upon Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., to drop a bid to free up billions of dollars for dredging and other harbor projects.

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