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$19 bn disaster aid bill blocked for 3rd time in US House


The United States House of Representative on Thursday failed to pass a multibillion-dollar disaster relief bill, for the third time in less than a week, once again thwarting Democrats' efforts to pass the long-delayed legislation that is supported by President Trump.
The objection was voiced by Representative John Rose after Democrats sought to advance the legislation via unanimous consent, a process that can be used to pass bills when the House is not in session, The Washington Post reported.
But Rose's objection was indicative of the fact that the bill meant to deliver assistance to states and territories devastated by hurricanes, flooding and wildfires, did not advance, just as happened twice in the past week with other conservative lawmakers stepping in to make their objection.
"Our nation is USD 22 trillion in debt," Rose said, adding that passing USD 20 billion in new spending was "another act of irresponsible big government."
Representative Chip Roy, who was the first to hold up the bill last week, also complained because the bill excluded a separate emergency spending request for the border that the administration had asked for. Roy was succeeded by Representative Thomas Massie on Tuesday.
However, the House did approve by voice vote a two-week extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, which was set to expire Friday.
The conservatives' stance has angered Democrats and fellow Republicans, who have been trying for months to reach an agreement on the legislation.
"We were sent to Congress to solve problems, not to make them worse," said Nita M. Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.
"Yet House Republicans have again delayed desperately needed relief for American families and communities, even as tornadoes and storms continue to hit the Midwest. It is beyond comprehension that anyone would think 15 minutes of fame is worth making disaster victims, like those in flood-battered Tennessee, wait even longer for the help they need," she added.
Trump voiced support for the final bill after it was passed the Senate last week.

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First Published: May 31 2019 | 6:01 AM IST

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