A group of Panhandle businesses paid for an ad in the Austin American-Statesman Tuesday to chastise Texas Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Roy after his lone “no” vote on Friday delayed a $19.1 billion assistance package for disaster victims across the nation.
Expect to see a similar ad in the Louisville Courier-Journal or another major metro in U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie’s district in the coming days after the Kentucky Republican’s lone “no” vote Tuesday further delayed the long-awaited, long-delayed disaster aid bill Tuesday, spurring frustrated bipartisan anger.
“Pathetic,” said U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia. “Another example of politicians putting their own self-interest ahead of the national interest.”
As with Friday, the House met Tuesday in a brief pro forma session to adopt the disaster relief package, which requires unanimous consent with most members still on Memorial Day recess.
Another pro forma session is scheduled for Thursday. If unanimous consent cannot be secured to move the bill forward then, adoption will have to wait until the full House assembles on June 3.
Approved in an 85-8 vote by the Senate last Thursday, the package includes assistance for victims of natural disasters across the country since 2017, ranging from Midwest floods to California wildfires to hurricanes in the Southeast, most notably Category 5 Hurricane Michael, which stormed through North Florida last August.
The bill includes $1.67 billion to repair Tyndall Air Force Base, $2.4 billion in Community Development Block Grants [CDBG] disaster relief funding, $1.65 billion to rebuild damaged highways, $600 in economic assistance programs, $480 million for timber restoration and $150 million for fishery losses that Panhandle residents, businesses and governments can tap into.
The bill also extends the National Flood Insurance Program, which was set to expire at the end of the month, through Sept. 30.
The package had been mired in partisan gridlock for months, first over President Donald Trump’s insistence that it include $4.5 billion for border security and then over House Democrats’ demand that it include assistance for Puerto Rico for its continued recovery from Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Despite not including money for the border wall and allocating $1.4 billion for Puerto Rico – including $600 million for disaster nutrition assistance — that he opposed, Trump told reporters last week that he would sign it.
“We’ll get the immigration money later, according to everybody,” he said. “I have to take care of my farmers with disaster relief. I didn’t want to hold that up any longer. So, the answer is I totally support it.”
On Tuesday, however, Massie said he would not support the bill until the full body has returned from its Memorial Day recess.
“If the speaker of this House felt that this was must-pass legislation, the speaker of this House should have called a vote on this bill before sending every member of Congress on recess for 10 days,” he said, echoing Roy’s comments on Friday. “To pass a $19 billion bill like this, without a recorded vote, is legislative malpractice.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Miami, said Massie’s objection “only prolonged misery” for millions of Americans from Florida to California.
“The brutal contempt that House Republicans continue to show for those suffering in the Midwest, Florida’s Panhandle, Puerto Rico and our military base communities is dangerous, cruel and costlier over the long term,” she said in a statement.
Massie drew criticism from fellow Texas Republican Rep. Kay Granger, who called his actions a “political stunt” and said the bill needed to be adopted as quickly as possible.
Massie was unrepentant, tweeting Tuesday evening that, “Legislative malpractice is all-too-common here in The Swamp.”
A group of Panhandle business owners took out their frustration on Roy for his “no” vote Friday with a full-page ad in Tuesday’s Austin American-Statesman. The group includes Panama City Republican Rep. Jay Trumbull’s father, Jay Trumbull, Sr.
The ad read: “When Texas was hit by Hurricane Harvey, Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis and a group of friends went to Beaumont, Texas to help. He served the Texans with his own time and money,” citing efforts by Patronis and other Florida officials to aid victims after Hurricane Harvey struck Texas in 2017.
“After Hurricane Michael,” the ad continues, “Chip Roy served himself with a political stunt that prevented relief to the suffering victims of Florida.”
The ad spells out the damage caused by Michael and asked readers to call Roy’s office.