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Lawmaker Single-Handedly Blocks Disaster Relief Bill

Conservative Rep. Chip Roy of Texas objects and scuttles $19B in aid, temporarily
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2019 1:05 PM CDT

(Newser) – Chip Roy is a freshman congressman from Texas who just blipped onto the national political radar with a controversial move. The conservative Republican single-handedly blocked approval of a $19.1 billion relief bill Friday for regions around the US recovering from hurricanes and other disasters. The details of what happened, and why:

  • The nay: Many members of the House already have left DC for the Memorial Day holiday, and thus Nancy Pelosi aimed to get the relief bill passed not by a typical roll-call vote but by the unanimous consent of members present, reports the Hill. House Republican leaders were on board, and the move was supposed to be a slam dunk. Then Roy voiced his objection, and the procedure failed, per Roll Call.
  • Why: Roy complained that the bill would raise the national debt without providing offsets, doesn't include money "to address the clear national emergency and humanitarian crisis we have at our southern border," and deserves a full debate and regular vote on the House floor.

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  • Now what: The full House isn't back for 10 days, meaning the relief package that already has been delayed for five months will likely be delayed until then, reports Politico. Pelosi could try again next week via unanimous consent, though Roy could block that, too. Would he do so? "We'll see," he said, as quoted by the Washington Post.
  • The relief: It would provide money to Puerto Rico, as well as to victims of wildfires in the West, flooding in the Midwest, and hurricanes in the Southeast, among others. The White House had wanted it to include money for the border, but that got dropped in the Senate. On Thursday night, President Trump gave the compromise (which passed the Senate 85-8) his "total approval."
  • Who's Roy? The 46-year-old is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who previously served as chief of staff to Sen. Ted Cruz. As such, "he's no stranger to the grand gesture and legislative tactics that alienate colleagues while drawing instant attention," per the Dallas News.
  • The reaction: Pelosi called it "sabotage" and other Democrats agreed, but Roy earned praise on the right, including from Erick Erickson of Resurgent. "While I believe disaster aid still needs to be funded, I applaud @chiproytx for holding up the legislation and requiring the House to debate spending $19billion," he tweeted. "We have a debt and deficit crisis on our hands that threaten our national security."
(Read more Congress stories.)

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