The long-delayed, $19.1-billion disaster bill is on its way to the White House for President Trump’s signature. The House passed the bill, which includes $3 billion in agricultural aid, 354-58, an emphatic rejection, said Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, of “the political stunts and grandstanding that have made it difficult to deliver much-needed disaster relief to families and communities across America.”
Conservative Republicans blocked three attempts to pass the bill by unanimous consent in late May during lightly attended “pro forma” House sessions. One of them, Representative Chip Roy of Texas, repeated his objections on Monday that the disaster aid “is unpaid for” while the federal debt was rising.
The disaster bill says agricultural aid can include payments to growers who were unable to plant crops or who lost grain stored on their farms to flooding. The bill directs the USDA to parcel out the money in grants to states, which would have broad discretion in fashioning aid programs for their individual needs. The bill also makes the wealthiest operators eligible for the administration’s trade mitigation payments. Ordinarily, people with more than $900,000 annually in adjusted gross income are barred from receiving federal payments. In this case, they can collect a Trump tariff payment if 75% of their income is from farming, ranching, or forestry.
Action on the bill was delayed for months by President Trump’s insistence on limiting aid to Puerto Rico. The bill includes $600 million for food stamps on the island. Representative Kay Granger, the Republican leader on the House Appropriations Committee, said Congress should “quickly address needs on the border,” meaning an administration request for $4 billion for immigration and border security.