Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, urged Senate members on Monday to approve legislation provided disaster relief funds to Alabama and other areas that have recently suffered from natural disasters.
The measure would provide $13.45 billion in aid to states and territories affected by disasters in 2018 and 2019. It would also provide $600 million in nutrition assistance to Puerto Rico.
“This assistance is not just for those whose lives were destroyed by the tornado that recently hit my home state of Alabama,” said Shelby, chairman of the Senate appropriations committee. “It is also for those whose homes and crops and livestock have been swept away by catastrophic flooding in the Midwest. We should not further delay this assistance; those in need must not be forced to wait any longer.”
This measure, referred to by Shelby as the Shelby amendment, is separate from others introduced in Senate.
“There is broad agreement on both sides of the aisle that this legislation should address 2018 disasters, and both my amendment and the underlying bill do this,” Shelby said. “There are, however, two glaring differences. First, the Shelby amendment provides assistance to those affected by 2019 disasters; the underlying bill does not. Second, the Shelby amendment has the support of the President; the underlying bill does not.”
Notably, Shelby’s amendment cuts back on funding for relief in Puerto Rico to provide additional funds to states affected by disasters in 2018 and 2019.
“Thus far, my Democratic colleagues have been unwilling to help these people unless their demands are met,” Shelby said. “What are their demands? Not more resources for 2018 or 2019 disasters. No, instead they demand nearly a billion dollars more for Puerto Rico.”
“The one piece of Puerto Rico funding we agree is essential – in fact, urgent – is nutrition assistance,” Shelby said.