Congress Passes Disaster Relief Bill

Cindy Morley

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

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Help is on the way. Nearly nine months after farmers in South Georgia were devastated by Hurricane Michael, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill Monday, sending the measure to President Donald Trump.

The legislation was approved 354-58 by Congress.

The Senate had passed the bill by an 85-8 vote on May 23. But many lawmakers had already left town to begin a weeklong Memorial Day recess when the bill passed. That meant a normal vote was not possible, so the House attempted to pass the bill through unanimous consent. The procedural vote required the consent of every House member, but in the three separate attempts to pass the bill by unanimous consent, Reps. Chip Roy, R-Tx.; Thomas Massie, R-Ky.; and John Rose, R-Tenn., objected to approving a funding package of that size without having the full House present to vote.

U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) tweeted Monday evening, “Going forward, Congress must leave politics out of disaster relief & move swiftly to provide assistance in a timely manner. When disaster strikes, time is of the essence, and the American people need to know we have their backs.”

Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA-02) also took to social media after the vote, posting “I am proud to announce that H.R. 2157 has passed the House and is on its way to President Donald J. Trump’s desk. I am thankful that Americans will finally receive disaster relief after months of waiting for the Administration and the Senate to stop playing politics.”

“After several unnecessary delays last week by three House GOP members, the vote today sends the disaster bill to the President to be signed into law.”

Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA-08), whose district was also heavily impacted by Michael, echoed those sentiments.  “While I remain frustrated that it has taken eight months to get this relief, today Georgians can rest a little easier knowing that this package has passed through Congress and is on its way to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law” he said in a release.  

The legislation includes more than $3 billion for farmers hit by Hurricane Michael and other recent storms, as well as money for local blueberry growers whose crops were destroyed by a deep freeze in 2017 and the victims of recent tornadoes in west Georgia and Alabama.

Trump has said he backed the measure, even though it did not include border money he had urged Congress to add. He said he would continue pressing for that as part of separate legislation.