Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | TheHill – The Hill

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Senators voted 85-8 on the legislation, which provides $19.1 billion in recovery money for a recent slate of wildfires, hurricanes and storms. GOP Sens. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnHillicon Valley: Google delays cutting off Huawei | GOP senators split over breaking up big tech | Report finds DNC lagging behind RNC on cybersecurity GOP senators split over antitrust remedies for big tech Graham warns of 5G security threat from China MORE (Tenn.), Mike BraunMichael BraunPence, McConnell eulogize Sen. Richard Lugar GOP senators propose congressional term limits Bipartisan senators introduce bill to fix problem of teacher debt MORE (Ind.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoTrump, Senate GOP discuss effort to overhaul legal immigration Dems propose fining credit agencies for data breaches Mueller fails to break stalemate on election meddling crackdown MORE (Idaho), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley: Google delays cutting off Huawei | GOP senators split over breaking up big tech | Report finds DNC lagging behind RNC on cybersecurity GOP senators split over antitrust remedies for big tech Fix the climate with smaller families MORE (Utah), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyOvernight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds Trump taps new Air Force secretary Bolton emerges as flashpoint in GOP debate on Iran MORE (Ariz.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul splits with Amash on Trump impeachment The Go-Go’s rock the stage at annual ‘We Write the Songs’ DC concert GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending MORE (Ky.), Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischOvernight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info Democrats warn Trump may soon push through Saudi arms sale Trump, Europe increasingly at odds on Iran MORE (Idaho) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyIraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran Alabama state senator introduces bill to repeal state’s abortion ban Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — McConnell, Kaine offer bill to raise tobacco buying age to 21 | Measles outbreak spreads to 24 states | Pro-ObamaCare group launches ad blitz to protect Dems MORE (Utah) voted against the bill.

The House has already left for the weeklong Memorial Day recess. But a Democratic leadership aide said the caucus supports the measure and hopes to clear it by unanimous consent on Friday. 

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“We’ve proposed … that we come forth with a clean disaster package, a lot of things off including border security stuff, just disaster, basically. And the president said OK,” Shelby told reporters.

The deal, according to a GOP appropriations aide, includes a total of $19.1 billion for disaster recovery. 

In a win for Democrats, it also includes $600 million in food stamp money for Puerto Rico and an additional $300 million in Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants for the island territory. 

The Senate’s original disaster bill, which included only the food stamp funding, derailed after Trump criticized Puerto Rico’s handling of recovery money during a closed-door GOP lunch. Lawmakers acknowledged earlier this week that they had finalized that portion of the package. 

Thursday’s vote is a U-turn from Wednesday evening when chances of getting a deal before the week-long Memorial Day recess appeared to be slipping as top negotiators canceled a meeting amid a standoff over how much of Trump’s request for emergency border money to put in the bill. 

The White House’s $4.5 billion border money request included $3.3 billion for humanitarian assistance. About $1.1 billion would go toward operations such as expanding the number of detention beds and providing more investigation resources.  

Democrats were on board with including billions in humanitarian aid for the U.S.-Mexico border but had left Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) funding out of their previous offers because it’s considered a non-starter for the caucus. Republicans, meanwhile, were accusing Democrats of trying to use the disaster bill to impose new immigration-related restrictions on the administration. 

Immigration has emerged as a lightning rod issue during the Trump administration, with both chambers rejecting multiple immigration and border proposals since 2017 and under pressure from their bases to draw red lines for any agreement. 

A senior Democratic aide added on Thursday that Democrats secured language in the disaster aid agreement to prohibit the new funding in the package from being transferred to things that were not specifically appropriated for, including the president’s wall.

But Shelby indicated that appropriators would circle back to the president’s request once Congress returns to Washington in June. 

“We took it all out … [but] we’re going to try to push that separately when we come back,” Shelby said. “It’s needed, but we’re sticking with disaster now.”

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Trump, asked about the disaster aid bill, told reporters during a farm aid event that he had been told he would get the immigration-related funding later.

“We’re going to get the immigration money later, according to everybody. I have to take care of my farmers with the disaster relief. If I didn’t do that — I mean, really, it’s a long time in coming,” Trump said.

Trump added, “We’ll take care of the immigration later. The wall is being built.”

Shelby told reporters that he told Trump that the Senate would take back up his emergency funding request in June, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) likely to bring it straight to the floor. If the chamber is going to pass a bill granting additional border money it will take 60 votes, including support from Democrats.

Aides had indicated on Thursday morning that immigration was still a sticking point that was making it difficult to get to an agreement.

“We’re incredibly disappointed that Speaker Pelosi is going to gavel out today without addressing disaster relief. We’ve been trying for months to get help to our farmers, to families who’ve been suffering, and there was a lot of effort made to try to get an agreement done before we left,” he told reporters.

Scalise didn’t rule out supporting a bipartisan deal agreed upon in the Senate, telling reporters: “However, we can get this job done and help these families. We ought to do it.”

—Juliegrace Brufke contributed 

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