Interstate highway 45 is submerged from the effects of Hurricane Harvey seen during widespread flooding in Houston, Texas on 27 August 2017. Photo: Richard Carson / REUTERS

By Cristina Marcos
12 October 2017

(The Hill) – Legislation to provide $36.5 billion in aid for communities affected by recent wildfires and hurricanes, including Puerto Rico, secured widespread support in the House on Thursday save for 69 Republicans.

The votes in opposition included many members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who believe government spending should not add to the deficit.

Freedom Caucus leaders like Chairman Mark Meadows (N.C.), Justin Amash (Mich.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio), voted against the aid package.

The legislation provides $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) disaster relief fund, $16 billion to address national flood insurance program debt and $576.5 million for wildfire recovery efforts.

It also provides $1.27 billion for disaster food assistance for Puerto Rico. The U.S. territory remains largely without power, with many residents still lacking access to food or clean water.

Rep. Mark Walker (N.C.), who leads the Republican Study Committee, also voted against the legislation due to the lack of offsets.

“Hurricane aid shouldn’t be added to the debt. That’s akin to going to the Emergency Room after an injury, putting the charges on a credit card, and then pretending that the Visa bill is never going to arrive,” Walker wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

The majority of the House GOP conference did vote for the legislation, including every member of the Florida delegation whose state was ravaged by Hurricane Irma last month. [more]

69 Republicans vote against aid for Puerto Rico, other disaster sites

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