Posts tagged with "Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-Alabama)"

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

Budgetary bluster: Trump threatens government shutdown, if Congress rejects $5B for wall

November 29, 2018

President Donald Trump is throwing his considerable weight around again: He is calling for no less than $5 billion in funding to build the border wall. He refuses to negotiate—and has gone on record saying that he is willing to instigate a partial government shutdown—as the clock ticks down to Congress’s December 7 deadline for the FY2019 budget bill.

What’s more, the president repeatedly has threatened to close the entire southern border, if he is not satisfied, tweeting on November 26, “…We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!”

The House and the Senate still have to pass seven spending bills to fund multiple government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the State Department, Vox reported on November 28. But Trump has renewed a push for border wall funding, throwing a major wrench into these negotiations. What’s more, the president has said, if he does not get the money, the Democrats are to blame.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) had previously been optimistic about closing the year with no drama, but a veto threat over wall funding could make that tougher to do. Because these are spending bills that require 60 votes to pass, Democrats have a fair amount of leverage.

And they don’t appear to be backing down easily, Vox said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) signaled Tuesday, the news outlet said, that he would support no more than the already allocated $1.6 billion for funding the wall in the Senate version of spending legislation.

They haven’t spent a penny of the $1.3 billion they requested in last year’s budget .… We’re not negotiating in the press,” Schumer told reporters.

According to the Vox report, Democrats also are standing firm over issues related to protecting the Mueller investigation and addressing the citizenship question on the 2020 Census questionnaire—matters they would much prefer to see tackled in the bill.

Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) has characterized wall funding as the “linchpin” of current talks, telling reporters the $5 billion figure is a “red line” for Trump.

If Congress is unable to reach an agreement that gets closer to this figure, Trump said that he could—and would—veto whatever bill comes across his desk.

Research contact: Li Zhouli@vox.com