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House vote on disaster aid bill stalls after Republican member objects

GOP House member holds up disaster aid bill

A vote to pass a $19 billion disaster aid package stalled in the House, after Republican Congressman Chip Roy of Texas objected Friday morning. House leadership was trying to pass the bill by unanimous consent. The Senate passed the same measure Thursday with a vote of 85 to 8. 

The bill, which would include much-needed assistance to states struck by floods, storms and fire, and aid for Puerto Rico, which suffered substantial damage in 2017 from Hurricane Maria, the most powerful storm to hit Puerto Rico in almost 90 year, will now be held up until early June, when lawmakers return to Washington. 

Rep. Roy cited the bill's lack of funding for the crisis at the southern border as a sticking point for his objection. 

"There is no reason this disaster supplemental should not have included the quite modest $4.4 billion dollars that Director of OMB Vought sent to Capitol Hill to ensure DHS and HHS do not run out of money, which they're slated to do while managing the over 100,000 illegal aliens crossing our border being apprehended and the unaccompanied alien minor children being unable to be housed appropriately," Roy told his colleagues on the House floor. 

Given those objections, Roy, a first-term member of the minority party in the House, said that the entire body should be in town to vote on the measure.

The failure to pass the bill comes as most members have already left Washington for Memorial Day weekend and the president was about to depart for his overseas trip to Japan. 

Throughout the afternoon on Thursday, no GOP aides were able to give a firm answer on whether any of their members would object. A senior Democratic aide told CBS News' Rebecca Kaplan that Republican leaders were satisfied with the bill and had hoped no GOP lawmakers objected. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the stall a "last-minute sabotage" by House Republicans and an "act of staggering political cynicism."

"Every day of Republican obstruction, more disasters have struck, more damage has piled up and more families have been left in the cold. Every House Republican needs to answer to the American people why they are standing in the way of urgently needed disaster relief for families struggling to heal and recover," Pelosi added. 

Roy fired back at the speaker, claiming she'd "rather play politics on impeachment than do the work of the people."

"I objected primarily because had I not, Congress would have passed into law a bill that spends a significant amount of tax payer money without members of Congress even being present in our nation's capitol to vote on it. Speaker Pelosi knew full well that a disaster bill may be coming from the Senate. Yet, she chose to recess the House and then brought this forward for consent. I stayed in D.C. to object because this kind of swampy practice is what Texans elected me to stand against," Roy added in a statement. 

The disaster package was to deliver aid to Puerto Ricans facing food assistance cuts, communities in Midwestern states like Iowa and Missouri recovering from devastating floods and farmers in the south still struggling after Hurricane Michael ravaged their harvests last year.  

Camilo Montoya-Galvez contributed to this report.

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