House approves $19.1B disaster aid bill blocked three times by Republicans

The House of Representatives approved a $19.1 disaster relief bill Monday, sending the measure to President Trump after conservative Republican lawmakers had blocked three separate attempts to pass the bill by a voice vote last week.

The bill was passed by a vote of 354-58, with 132 Republicans -- many from districts hit by hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and fires in recent months -- joining 222 Democrats to support the measure. All 58 'no' votes came from GOP lawmakers.

Trump tweeted Monday night: "House just passed the 19.1 Billion Dollar Disaster Aid Bill. Great, now we will get it done in the Senate! Farmers, Puerto Rico and all will be very happy."

"I am pleased that we have finally rejected the political stunts and grandstanding that have made it difficult to deliver much-needed relief to Americans struck by recent natural disasters," House Appropriations Committee Chairman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said in a statement. "While it has taken far too long, this $19.1 billion bill includes a broad array of measures to help meet the urgent needs of disaster-stricken communities, from health care and nutritional assistance to social services and infrastructure repairs. The bill represents bipartisan compromise that will strengthen communities and make lives better."

The House vote was the first significant action since lawmakers returned to Washington from a 10-day recess to mark the Memorial Day holiday. The Senate had passed the bill by a sweeping 85-8 vote on its way out of Washington on May 23, a margin that reflected a consensus that the bill was long overdue.

The measure had languished for months over a dispute between the White House and Democrats over aid to hurricane-hit Puerto Rico, as well as Trump's requests to allocate more than $4 billion to deal with the ongoing migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. Members of both parties agreed that another bill will be needed almost immediately to refill nearly empty agency accounts to care for Central American migrants.

Democrats also held firm for what ended up as roughly $1.4 billion for Puerto Rico, letting Trump feud with the U.S. territory's officials for weeks and deflecting political blame for stalling the bill.


The measure is largely the same as a version that passed the House last month that Republicans opposed for leaving out the border funding.

"We must work together quickly to pass a bill that addresses the surge of unaccompanied children crossing the border and provides law enforcement agencies with the funding they need," said House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Kay Granger, R-Texas, earlier Monday. "The stakes are high. There are serious — life or death — repercussions if the Congress does not act."

In a statement following the vote, Granger said the bill was a "positive step forward for our communities," but added: "[N]ow that disaster relief is on its way, I hope Congress will turn to addressing the humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border."

Among the reasons for the failure to reach an agreement on money for the border was a demand by House liberals to block the Department of Homeland Security from getting information from federal social welfare officials to help track immigrants living in the U.S. illegally who took migrant refugee children into their homes.

The bill started out as a modest $7.8 billion measure passed late in 2018, during the final days of Republican control of the House. A $14 billion version advanced in the Pelosi-led chamber in January and ballooned to $19.1 billion by the time it emerged from the floor last month, fed by new funding for community rehabilitation projects, Army Corps of Engineers water and flood protection projects, and rebuilding funds for several military bases, including Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.


The legislation initially was spearheaded by lawmakers from Florida and Georgia whose districts were battered by hurricanes this past fall. Flooding in Iowa and Nebraska this spring added to the coalition behind the measure. Recent floods in Arkansas, Iowa and Missouri and tornadoes across Oklahoma, Texas and Ohio added urgency to House leadership's push to pass the bill.


Following Senate approval, House leadership attempted to pass the measure by unanimous consent during the Memorial Day recess. But, objections were lodged by Reps. Chip Roy, R-Texas; Thomas Massie, R-Ky.; and John Rose, R-Tenn. All three members insisted that the legislation be put to a recorded vote.

Roy and Massie voted against the measure Monday, while Rose voted for it.

Fox News' Mike Arroyo, Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.