• Congress cuts deal on disaster relief as Trump relents on Puerto Rico aid

    By: Jamie Dupree

    Updated:

    Ending months of wrangling over billions of dollars in aid for victims of hurricanes, floods, and wildfires, Congress struck a deal Thursday with President Donald Trump on a $19.1 billion aid package, which includes extra relief money for Puerto Rico, but not several billion for border security efforts sought by the President.

    "We have been working on this package for several months, and I am pleased to say that help is finally on the way," said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL).

    The plan includes $600 million in food aid for Puerto Rico, along with an additional $304 million in housing assistance for the island, as President Trump backed off his opposition to extra aid for the island.

    "Puerto Rico has to be treated fairly - and they are," Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer told reporters.

    The compromise plan also includes over $3 billion to repair military bases in Florida, North Carolina and Nebraska which were damaged by disasters, and over $3 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers to repair damaged waterways infrastructure.

    The details of the final agreement were just slightly different from a disaster aid package approved earlier in May by the House - that $19.1 billion plan was opposed by President Trump and a majority of GOP lawmakers.

    "Now, let's get this bill to the President's desk ASAP," said Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA), whose home state has been hit hard by flooding.

    The bill would also extend the life of the National Flood Insurance Program, giving lawmakers several more months to consider reforms to the program, which has run up close to $40 billion in losses in the last 15 years.

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