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By 85-8 vote, Senate passes disaster aid package—including $1.4 billion for Puerto Rico

May 28, 2019

After six months of contentious infighting, the Senate finally has voted 85-8—with all of the “nays” from the Republicans—to approve a deal on disaster aid, designating $19.1 billion in relief to millions of Americans who have been waiting for help in the wake of devastating hurricanes, wildfires, and floods, Vox reports.

And that includes an allocation of $1.4 billion for Puerto Rico, which has been waiting for additional assistance for the more-than-8 months that have elapsed since Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

While disaster aid hasn’t always been a political flash point, Vox notes that the passage of this package has proven to be “especially challenging, given roadblocks thrown up by President Donald Trump.

Initially, the president balked at giving Puerto Rico any extra funding except $600 million in nutritional assistance— spurring months of debate on the subject. Then, he insisted that the bill should include billions of dollars for the border,

The final disaster aid package, much like the funding that passed after the government shutdown earlier this year, does not really address either of Trump’s demands, the news outlet says. Funding for border aid has been completely eliminated, while financing for Puerto Rico has been increased.

The House is expected to pass the legislation on May 24, and President Trump already has agreed to sign it, according to Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-Alabama), who spoke with the president via phone on Thursday.

Disaster aid is just proving to be the latest battleground where Trump caused major problems by inserting himself into the fight — with little to show for it.

The delays on disaster aid have had major consequences: In addition to the fact that it’s been more than a year since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, it also has been seven months since Hurricane Michael hit Florida, and two months since flooding destroyed towns in Iowa and Missouri.

What’s more, a mid-March “bomb cyclone” caused nearly $1.5 billion in damage in Nebraska, alone; and California is still recovering from wildfires. In the South, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and late freezes have all taken a toll on the agricultural industry and surrounding businesses.

Research contact: @voxdotcom