Congress finally breaks GOP obstruction to pass critical relief for disaster victims


The House passed a $19 billion disaster relief bill on Monday, overcoming objections from a cadre of obstructionist Republicans.

Victims recovering from a spate of devastating natural disasters will finally get the relief they need, after the House passed a $19 billion disaster aid bill on Monday night.

The House passed the bill 354 to 58, with the no votes all coming from GOP lawmakers.

The disaster relief package could have been passed and signed by Trump over a week ago. However, a trio of House Republicans blocked attempts by House Democratic leadership to pass the bill by "unanimous consent" — a tactic lawmakers often use to pass non-controversial bills without a roll-call vote.

The disaster relief bill was non-controversial, given the Senate had already passed it by a wide bipartisan margin of 85-8, and Trump had given the OK that he'd sign it.

Yet the grandstanding Republicans demanded that a roll-call vote be taken to pass the bill, which could not happen last week while members of Congress were out of Washington, D.C., for the Memorial Day recess.

All three obstructionist GOP lawmakers — Reps. Chip Roy of Texas, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and John Rose of Tennessee — come from states that have been hit by disasters like hurricanes or floods.

Their tactics angered some of their fellow Republicans, who accused the three male lawmakers of attention seeking.

"This is yet another example of politicians putting their own self-interest ahead of the national interest," Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who helped get Trump to back the disaster relief bill, tweeted last week when Massie blocked the bill's passage. "It's pathetic that some members have chosen this moment to grandstand & get into the national headlines."

But Roy, Massie, and Rose are hardly the only GOP lawmakers who have delayed relief to disaster victims.

House Democrats passed a similar disaster relief bill weeks ago — but 150 House Republicans voted against it, cowing to Trump's demands to exclude funding for Puerto Rico in the package.

In the end, storm victims can now get the money they need to rebuild their lives, just as the next hurricane season begins.

But the fact they had to wait this long is an embarrassment for Republicans, who have blocked efforts to get victims the help they needed at every turn.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.