Washington — The House finally approved a $19.1-billion bill to dispatch relief funds to disaster-hit communities across the U.S., sending the long-delayed legislation to President Trump's desk for his signature.
Following thelast month, which ended months of , lawmakers in the House passed the legislation by a vote of 354 to 58 on Monday. All those voting against the bill were Republicans.
The multi-billion-dollar aid package, which had beenduring Congress' recent recess by three dissenting Republican congressmen, is expected to be signed by the president, who has backed off his rigid opposition to additional hurricane recovery funding for Puerto Rico.
Mr. Trump praised the bill's passage on Twitter, but erroneously stated it still needed to go through the Senate. "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," he wrote Monday night while in London.
The disaster package delivers federal aid to farmers in southern states still struggling after Hurricane Michael's devastation, wildfire victims in California, low-income Puerto Ricans facing food assistance cuts and rural communities in Midwestern states like Iowa and Missouri recovering from floods.
Its approval by Congress and the White House would mark the culmination of months of gridlock — especially in the Senate — over one of the few areas of bipartisan agreement in Congress. The legislation stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate for months, as GOP senators were hesitant to support a package that included additional recovery funding for Puerto Rico, something the president initially opposed.
After months of back-and-forth and relentless finger-pointing, Democrats successfully included $300 million in Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants for Puerto Rico, in addition to $600 million in funds for the nutritional program on the island, which is still recovering from a pair of devastating hurricanes in 2017.
Additionally, a senior Democratic aide told CBS News that lawmakers in the party secured language in the legislation to bar funding from being appropriated to other projects, a move aimed at preventing the administration from diverting funds to build the president's long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
On Monday night, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the president was responsible for the bill's delay. He urged his Republican colleagues to continue putting pressure on the White House to broker bipartisan deals with Democrats.
"Senate Republicans should view these last five months as a lesson: carrying the president's water, even when they know he is wrong, is ultimately a futile exercise that needlessly hurts the American people," Schumer wrote in a statement. "The quicker Senate Republicans learn that lesson, the better our chances to avoid unnecessary risks to our country down the road."
Rebecca Kaplan contributed to this report.
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