Thursday the U.S. Senate approved a $19.1 billion relief package for states impacted by natural disasters.
The vote occurred only hours after U.S, Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, announced that President Donald Trump had agreed to support the bipartisan legislation, even though it had not included provisions for the crisis on the southern border that the president had requested.
“I want to thank President Trump for breaking the gridlock and getting this disaster relief to Americans who so desperately need it,” said Senator Shelby. “We have been working on this package for several months, and I am pleased to say that help is finally on the way.”
The measure passed the Senate 85 to 8.
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell praised Shelby for crafting the bipartisan compromise.
“Sen. Shelby is a strong voice for the people of Alabama and America,” Parnell said. “We appreciate his leadership in working with the president and members of Congress from both parties to find solutions to our most pressing needs. Alabama farmers were hit hard by hurricanes, and families also have been devastated by tornadoes. We thank Alabama’s Congressional delegation for keeping these concerns at the forefront and President Trump for agreeing to sign this important legislation.”
The disaster relief bill includes agricultural disaster relief for farmers. The package provides critical aid for states affected by disasters in 2018, 2019 and 2017.
A key sticking point in the negotiations was the Democratic demand that Puerto Rico receive over $900 million in aid for ongoing relief assistance for the Hurricane that occurred in 2017. The bill also includes aid for states in the Midwest and the South that have experienced catastrophic flooding and tornadoes in 2019. The bill includes an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program
The U.S. House of Representatives, which had passed a more partisan disaster recovery plan, had recessed early for the Memorial Day break; thus were not able to approve the bill following the Shelby compromise.
Former State Representative and the 2016 Alabama Trump/Victory Chairman, Perry O. Hooper Jr.(R-Prattville) was critical of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-California) decision to leave for vacation rather than wait for the Senate to pass the aid package.
Hooper said, ”Speaker Pelosi, shut-up, get your House in order and go to work. Hooper said, Alabama and America are in dire needs of a National Infrastructure Bill to pass. President Trump has been working hard to develop a strong Infrastructure Structure plan for our Country. Just the other day, the President invited Speaker Pelosi to meet with him at the White House to discuss the importance of passing an Infrastructure Bill, unfortunately all Speaker Pelosi could do is play petty politics.”
“America is sick and tired of Speaker Pelosi’s silly political tactics,” Hooper continued. “America wants you to do the job you were elected to do! So shut-up, get your House in order and go to work!”
The bill could have already went to the president’s desk this week, if the House of Representatives had grants unanimous consent; however one arch conservative House Republican, who is among the handful of Representatives left behind opposes the legislation because he feels the compromise package is overly large and is not offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.
This and the fact that the full House is not in the city had delayed action until the full body returns from the Memorial Day recess.
Tuesday, Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) whose district has been impacted by both a fall hurricane and tornados earlier this year said, “Last week, the Senate finally passed their disaster relief bill. The House will take up this legislation as soon as next week, and I am hopeful that our citizens will receive the help they so desperately need as soon as possible.”
Richard Shelby is the Chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations committee.
(Original reporting by the Alabama Farmer’s Federation and Fox News contributed to this report.)