U.S. Senate Approves Disaster Aid Package
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 23 — The U.S. Senate today overwhelmingly approved a $19.1 billion relief package for states impacted by natural disasters. The vote came just hours after Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) announced President Donald J. Trump agreed to sign the measure without provisions related to humanitarian concerns at the U.S. border.
“I want to thank President Trump for breaking the gridlock and getting this disaster relief to Americans who so desperately need it,” Shelby said. “We have been working on this package for several months, and I am pleased to say that help is finally on the way.”
The measure passed 85-8 and could go to the president’s desk this week, if the House of Representatives grants unanimous consent. However, the House could delay action until it returns from the Memorial Day recess.
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell praised Shelby for working with President Trump to break the stalemate and get relief to those affected by natural disasters.
“Sen. Shelby is a strong voice for the people of Alabama and America. We appreciate his leadership in working with the president and members of Congress from both parties to find solutions to our most pressing needs,” Parnell said. “Alabama farmers were hit hard by hurricanes, and families also have been devastated by tornadoes. We thank Alabama’s Congressional delegation for keeping these concerns at the forefront and President Trump for agreeing to sign this important legislation.”
The disaster relief bill provides critical aid for states affected by disasters in 2018 and 2019, as well as ongoing relief for disasters that occurred in 2017 including: agriculture disaster relief for farmers; development grants for small, rural communities; assistance for veterans’ health facilities and military construction projects; emergency funds for critical timber, watershed and wastewater infrastructure needs; and resources to restore highways, aviation facilities and other transit projects.
The measure also includes $600 million in nutrition assistance and $304 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for Puerto Rico – key Democratic priorities in the bill. The legislation further includes billions of dollars in additional funding for states in the Midwest and the South that have experienced catastrophic flooding and tornadoes in 2019. Finally, the bill includes an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program.