WASHINGTON — A battle over funding for Puerto Rico is complicating the path forward for a long-delayed disaster aid bill that’s a top political priority for some of President Donald Trump’s Republican allies as it heads to the Senate floor this week.
At stake is $13.5 billion emergency relief legislation to help southern farmers, rebuild hurricane-damaged military bases, repair water systems, and assist victims of last year’s California wildfires, among other purposes.
The measure has wide backing from both Democrats and Republicans and is perhaps most ardently backed by Trump loyalists such as David Perdue, R-Ga., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who face potentially difficult re-election fights next year.
The White House, however, isn’t pleased with the bill and is particularly opposed to efforts by Democrats to make hurricane relief to Puerto Rico more generous. Senate Republicans are supporting food aid to the devastated island and are working with top Democrats like Patrick Leahy of Vermont to try to speed passage of the measure by adding additional help for Puerto Rico.
The House passed a companion $14.2 billion version of the legislation in January, but it got tangled up in the politics of the partial government shutdown and Trump’s demands for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The measure is especially sought by lawmakers from southern states like Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, which were hit by hurricanes Michael and Florence last year. There’s money to respond to an earthquake in Alaska, California wildfires and floods in South Carolina, and for the ongoing recovery effort in Puerto Rico, which was devastated by back-to-back hurricanes in 2017.
And now there’s widespread flooding in Nebraska, Iowa and other Midwestern states.
In an official position paper in January, the White House said the House bill was far too generous, objecting to almost $6 billion worth of the measure. But it stopped …read more
Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News