Disaster aid is before the U.S. Senate as lawmakers are working to break the political logjam over urgently-needed assistance for farmers hurt by storm damage. This includes those here in the Southeast affected by Hurricane Michael last October. While the House did pass a disaster bill last week, congressional leaders and the White House have been discussing a bipartisan bill that can get through both chambers easily. Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby from Alabama says Senators are on the verge of an agreement. It totals some 17-billion dollars in relief for flood, hurricane, tornado, wildfire, and drought damage. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes it will pass when they vote on it next week.
“We need to get this done…we need to pass it out of the Senate, before the Memorial Day recess…that is my hope, that Senator Shelby, Senator Leahy, the administration and others, will be able to come together and deal with this disaster, like we have others.”
McConnell said there’s no excuse for politicizing disaster aid and both sides seem ready to break the Senate logjam. Remaining hurdles include an administration request for humanitarian border aid and extra funds for harbor maintenance. But negotiators note the biggest points of contention yet to work through are nearly settled. Both sides have agreed to provide Puerto Rico with hundreds of millions in additional aid, an important point that Democrats had asked for.