House Passes Disaster Bill – Pressure Still on the Senate

Friday, last week, the House of Representatives passed a roughly 19 Billion dollar disaster bill that includes about $3Billion of ag disaster relief. The bill passed 257 to 150 with all Democrat members and 34 Republican members voting for the bill. The remaining Republicans voted against the measure at the urging of the President. The President seems to still be opposed to additional aid to Puerto Rico. President Trump continues to insist publicly that he wants Congress to pass assistance to farmers hit by hurricanes, wildfires and flooding in the past several months.

The House bill adds aid for the mid-west (mostly Iowa and Nebraska) that were devastated by flooding earlier this year. It provides some help for farmers who lost grain in their bins and helps to rebuild levees and other infrastructure to control future flooding.

The Senate, meanwhile, has not moved much from the last time they attempted to pass a disaster package before Easter. Senator Shelby, the Sen. appropriations chair, is haggling over spending to improve ports as well as ag assistance. When asked if Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s head of the Office of Management and Budget, acting White House Chief of Staff and former South Carolina congressman, is blocking the negotiations, Senator Shelby reportedly replied ‘well, he ins’t part of the solution right now’.

Both the White House and Congressional leadership want to get something done before the week-long break for Memorial Day. Things could move fairly quickly if a compromise is reached or we could see people beat their heads against the wall for another week or more. Stay Tuned.

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