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House fails to pass $19 billion disaster relief bill after GOP lawmaker objects

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By Rebecca Shabad and Alex Moe  with NBC News Politics
Image: Lanni Bailey and a team from Muddy Paws Second Chance Rescue enter a
A team enters a flooded house to pull out several cats during the flooding of the Missouri River near Glenwood, Iowa, on March 18.   -   Copyright  Passport Aerial Reuters

WASHINGTON — The House failed to pass the Senate-passed $19 billion bill providing disaster aid funding to parts of the U.S. hit by hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes and wildfires after a Republican lawmaker objected.

The House tried to pass the measure during a pro forma session Friday by unanimous consent since the House left for a week-long recess for Memorial Day on Thursday. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, objected saying the bill didn't address the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and that it was not paid for.

"Our nation is strong enough, and compassionate enough, to have a responsive and fiscally responsive approach to help people who are hurting in the wake of natural disasters," he said.

It was unclear what would happen next. The House could try passing it again during another pro forma session next week, or may need to wait until the chamber returns next month.

The Senate passed the bill Thursday evening in a 85-8 vote after a deal was struck among negotiators. President Donald Trump signed off on the parameters of the agreement Thursday afternoon, which excludes the $4.5 billion in border funding that White House and Republicans kept demanding.

According to a breakdown of the bill, it would provide about $900 million to Puerto Rico, which was ravaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017. That money would go toward nutrition assistance and a community development block grant, both of which were key Democratic priorities.

The bill also includes a provision that would require the Trump administration to make almost $9 billion in previously withheld aid available to Puerto Rico, according to a summary of the bill provided by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Funding for Puerto Rico had long been a sticking point in negotiations because Trump was opposed to giving the territory more aid. In April, he falsely claimed on Twitter that "Puerto Rico got 91 billion dollars for the hurricane" when the federal government had only allocated $40 billion for the island's recovery and most of it hasn't yet arrived.