U.S. Congress reaches deal on disaster aid, border funding left out

WASHINGTON, May 24 — The U.S. Congress has reached a deal on a 19.1-billion-U.S.-dollar disaster aid package which does not include emergency border funding and is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump, bipartisan lawmakers said on Thursday.

The deal will include 600 million dollars in food stamp money for Puerto Rico and an additional 300 million dollars in Housing and Urban Development grants for the island territory, according to local media reports.

“We’ve proposed… that we come forth with a clean disaster package, a lot of things off including border security stuff, just disaster, basically. And the president said okay,” Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Thursday afternoon.

Several Republican senators, including James Lankford, Roger Wicker and Rick Scott, also confirmed that it was their understanding Trump would sign a bill without border funding.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer confirmed that Democrats backed the long-stalled legislation to respond to a recent spate of wildfires, hurricanes and storms.

Shelby noted that he had spoken with House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, a Democrat from New York State who was supportive of the deal.
Evan Hollander, Lowey’s spokesman on the Appropriations Committee, said Lowey is supporting the agreement and wants to pass it through the House “as soon as possible.”

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill Thursday before leaving town for the week-long Memorial Day recess. It’s not clear if the House would be able to pass it Thursday. – XINHUA