House passes $19 billion disaster relief bill after delays, sending it to Trump

Key Points
  • The House passes a long delayed disaster relief package. 
  • The $19 billion measure heads to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it into law. 
  • Trump had objected to giving more aid money to Puerto Rico, while Republicans blocked the measure from passing unanimously last week. 
Oliver Kelly, 1 year old, cries as he is carried off the sheriff's airboat during his rescue from rising flood waters in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Leland, North Carolina, September 16, 2018.
Jonathan Drake | Reuters

The House passed a long awaited $19 billion disaster aid package Monday that, pending President Donald Trump's signature, would send relief to areas of the U.S. battered by storms.

The chamber approved the measure by a 354-58 vote after Republicans blocked three previous attempts to pass it unanimously. Only GOP members voted against it Monday. As the Senate has already cleared the bill, it will head to Trump's desk for his approval.

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Trump, who objected to past disaster relief efforts over funding allotted for the hurricane-ravaged U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, said he would support the plan passed Monday. The measure also directs money to areas of red-leaning states such as Florida, Georgia and Iowa damaged by storms and flooding.

Both Democrats and Republicans representing areas smacked by storms, earthquakes and wildfires wanted Congress to pass the aid package more quickly. Trump had opposed sending more money to Puerto Rico and pushed for $4.5 billion more to address migration at the southern U.S. border — two stances from which he eventually retreated.

The bill sends $900 million to Puerto Rico for nutritional assistance and block grants. It also allots grant money and funds to rebuild infrastructure in pockets of the country hit by storms.

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Before the GOP-held Senate passed the revised relief package last month, Democrats had opposed any bill that did not include relief money for Puerto Rico. It put the seven senators running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination in a tough spot: They had to explain why they did not back a bill that sent relief funds to Iowa, a key early nominating state hit by record flooding.

When the Senate passed the bill last month, Trump tweeted that it had his "total approval."

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