Friday, April 12, 2019

Congress leaves for break without approving disaster aid

Congress has left Washington for a two-week recess without approving disaster aid that would help the Midwest, Southeast and Puerto Rico. The main problem: President Trump opposes more aid for Puerto Rico, which was hit by two hurricanes in 2017, and has made unsubstantiated claims that its politicians have mismanaged federal funds.

"Senate Republicans have stuck with the president so far, refusing to add more funding to help Puerto Rico rebuild its water systems or help its impoverished government with more generous disaster aid terms. Democrats in turn filibustered a $14 billion aid package over the issue last week, and the measure has languished since," Andrew Taylor reports for Fox Business.

Some Republican senators met with Trump privately on Thursday to try to make headway, including Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala, Jordain Carney reports for The Hill. Shelby and other GOP lawmakers from the southeast are feeling pressure to get the bill passed since farmers there still need hurricane aid and it's planting season, Taylor reports.

That has led to some unusual criticism of Trump from lawmakers who usually support him. "Never before have we seen American communities that were wrecked with catastrophes neglected like this," said Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., in a floor speech this week, Taylor reports. "To this day, OMB has not even submitted a request for disaster assistance, calls to White House staff have gone unheeded, and but for one tweet on April 1, it seems the president has moved on."

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