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Texas Congressman blocks federal disaster-relief package

The bill provides $1.2 billion to help rebuild Northwest Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base.

A long-stalled federal disaster relief package, which is expected to help the Panhandle’s recovery from Hurricane Michael, will have to wait for a vote until the U.S. House returns from this weekend’s holiday recess.

U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, a Texas Republican, raised an objection Friday that blocked the $19.1 billion aid package from advancing through the House via unanimous consent, after the Senate voted 85-8 in support of the bill Thursday.

“If I do not object, Congress will have passed into law a bill that spends $19 billion of taxpayer money without members of Congress being present here in our nation’s capital to vote on it,” Roy said from the House floor. “Secondly, it’s a bill that includes nothing to address the clear national emergency and humanitarian crisis we face at our Southern border.”

Roy, while arguing that the disaster package does not specify funding sources to offset an increase in the national debt, called a White House push to include $4.5 billion for border security in the package “quite modest.”

Along with providing aid to areas of Northwest Florida and Georgia that sustained damage in October’s Hurricane Michael, the package addresses flooding and wildfires in other parts of the country.

The House is set to return Tuesday.

Two weeks ago, the Democratic-led House approved a $19 billion disaster-aid package, despite opposition from President Donald Trump over additional funding Democrats want for Puerto Rico, which continues to recover from Hurricane Maria in 2017.

The House and Senate then negotiated a package that includes $900 million in assistance for Puerto Rico and $1.2 billion to help rebuild Northwest Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, which is close to where the Category 5 Hurricane Michael made landfall with 160 mph sustained winds.

If approved by the House, the package would then go to Trump.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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