The House of Representatives Thursday approved a $36.5 billion disaster aid package, which includes assistance for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and communities affected by recent wildfires.
The vote took place hours after President Donald Trump warned on Twitter that the federal government “cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders … in [Puerto Rico] forever!”
The bill passed 353-69, with all 69 “no” votes coming from Republicans which included many conservative leaders and six Texas Republicans.
The legislation will provide $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.
The bill also provides $1.27 billion for disaster food assistance for Puerto Rico.
“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,” said Rep. Mark Walker (N.C.), who leads the Republican Study Committee.
About 85 percent of Puerto Rico residents still lack electricity and the government revised its Hurricane Maria death toll to forty-five deaths.