A long-delayed $19.1 billion disaster relief package will be held up awhile longer after a lone House Republican blocked its passage on Friday.
The Senate had passed the legislation on Thursday in an 85-8 vote after lawmakers agreed to remove some $4.5 billion in contentious emergency border funding that the Trump administration had sought. President Trump tweeted Thursday night that the package has his “total approval.” House leaders had hoped to pass the bill Friday by unanimous consent since many lawmakers had left town Thursday morning, before the Senate deal was reached, but Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) objected and asked for a recorded vote. Only one such request was needed to block the motion.
Roy, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who previously served as chief of staff to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), cited a desire to have lawmakers debate the bill and hold a vote to pass it.
“I'm here today primarily because 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 in our nation's capital to vote on it,” he said, according to The Hill.
Roy also cited concerns over the lack of border funding and how the relief spending would be paid for.
The House is scheduled to hold another “pro forma” session on Tuesday, while most lawmakers will still be away, and will again try to pass the legislation by unanimous consent, according to The Washington Post. Roy said he had not decided how he’ll vote on Tuesday, the Post reported. Another objection would likely set up a full vote sometime after lawmakers return from their recess on June 3.
House Democrats slammed Roy for blocking the bill. “After President Trump and Senate Republicans delayed disaster relief for more than four months, it is deeply disappointing that House Republicans are now making disaster victims wait even longer to get the help they need,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) said in a statement. “We must pass this bicameral, bipartisan bill and we will keep working to get it through the House and onto the President’s desk.”