WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday failed to pass the Senate-passed $19 billion bill providing disaster aid funding to parts of the United States hit by hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes and wildfires for a third time in a week, after another Republican lawmaker blocked the measure.
Rep. John Rose, R-Tenn., objected to a request Thursday afternoon to pass the measure by unanimous consent during a pro forma session. If it had passed, it would have gone straight to President Donald Trump's desk for his signature.
Most lawmakers are back home in their districts this week for a weeklong Memorial Day recess. Democrats are expected to hold a roll call vote on the bill once members return to Washington next week.
"I am standing in a House chamber that is virtually empty," Rose said on the floor Thursday. "Nearly all of my 431 colleagues are absent as the speaker of the house seeks to pass a $19 billion spending bill. Our nation is $22 trillion in debt. Trying to pass nearly $20 billion in new spending while the majority of congress is not even in Washington reflects another act of irresponsible big government."
The Senate passed the bill last Thursday in a 85-8 vote after a deal was struck among negotiators. Trump signed off on the parameters of the agreement Thursday afternoon, which excludes $4.5 billion in border funding that the White House and the Republicans kept demanding.
The bill 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.
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.