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House Passes Disaster Relief Bill Including Puerto Rico

In a 257-150 vote, the House passed a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill. 34 of the “yes” votes came from Republicans, in spite of President Trump’s urgings to vote against the bill, saying, “Republicans must stick together.”

Trump followed up with thanks for a “Great Republican vote.”

The  bill includes funding for Puerto Rico and for States that have suffered in natural disasters. It extends the National Flood Insurance program through September.

The bill had been expected to cost just over $17 billion, but amendments brought the total past $19 billion. Some of those amendments were for support to territories, including nutrition assistance for American Samoa and

Puerto Rico will receive $600 million for nutritional assistance as part of more than $3 billion in disaster relief.

The House passed a disaster aid bill in January, but this bill has a higher price tag, by $5 billion.

The House bill now goes to the Senate. The Senate is still working on their own disaster relief bill. Leadership in the Senate has been trying to negotiate with Trump to create a bill that he will be sure to sign.

Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), however, expressed hope in a floor speech that the Senate will be inspired by the House bill.

“I pray, pray this bill, which rightfully assists so many other parts of the union, of our nation, will motivate the Senate at last to act and the president to sign this badly needed aid into law,” Velazquez said. “This is a matter of life and death for so many in Puerto Rico.”

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