Early Friday morning, after Congress had rushed out of the nation’s capital ahead of the Memorial Day recess, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democrats made a request for unanimous consent to the $19.1 billion disaster relief package endorsed by President Trump and passed by the Senate on Thursday, May 23.
This motion would have allowed the House of Representatives to pass the bill without requiring members to be in attendance or cast a recorded vote. But this attempt was blocked by Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX-21), thus delaying passage of the relief bill until Congress returns next month.
Congressman Roy released his own statement saying, “I objected primarily because had I not, Congress would have passed into law a bill that spends a significant amount of taxpayer money without members of Congress even being present in our nation’s capitol to vote on it.”
Criticizing Speaker Pelosi for recessing the House knowing this bill would come to the floor, Roy said, “I stayed in D.C. to object because this kind of swampy practice is what Texans elected me to stand against.”
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 85-8, with both Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz voting for it.
The bill provides aid to various places hit harshly by natural disasters which include Puerto Rico. The bill also doles out relief for farmers facing subpar crop yields from flooding and even contains unrelated provisions like expanding federal crop subsidies for hemp.
The bill does not, however, provide any funding for border security — something that both Trump and Roy have made significant policy priorities. President Trump had previously stated his desire for $4.5 billion in border security funding.
Illegal border crossings, as The Texan reported earlier this month, have spiked this fiscal year.
In both March and April of 2019, illegal border crossings have eclipsed six-figures, doubling the amounts from March and April of 2018. President Trump wanted border security funding to be included but settled without it in the end. He said in remarks about the bill, “We’ll get the immigration money later, according to everybody. I have to take care of my farmers with disaster relief…I didn’t want to hold that up any longer.”
Roy said of the exclusion, “Secondly, the bill includes nothing to address the clear national emergency and humanitarian crisis we face at our southern border.” Roy continued, “There is no reason this disaster supplemental should not include the quite modest $4.4 billion request from OMB Director Russ Vought.”
The disaster relief bill also contains no spending offsets, simply $19.1 billion in additional spending.
As of this writing, the national debt has eclipsed $22.3 trillion.
Additionally, the bill also extends the National Flood Insurance Program which surpassed $20 billion in debt last year.
Roy spoke to the lack of offsets in the package.
“I am troubled by the fact it spends over $19 billion that is not paid for when we are racking up approximately $100 million an hour in national debt.” He continued with, “This is a bipartisan problem that we should solve in Congress rather than ignore. That is why I am calling for Congress to hold to the spending caps under current law this year.”
Texas Democrats released a statement after Roy’s move.
Spokesperson Brittany Switzer said, “Americans have lost everything to hurricanes, floods, tornados, and wildfires. Texans still don’t have homes to live in. They need this funding to put their lives back together. There is no justification for Republican Chip Roy blocking these disaster relief funds.”
Roy finalized his explanation for the objection by saying, “We have had months to figure this out and also to do our job to secure our border, but now we are expected to let the swamp continue to mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren — making it less likely they will inherit a stronger and better country with a government capable of defending the nation and responding to disasters such as these.”
Congressman Roy sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi earlier this month, urging her to return to existing spending caps on discretionary spending.
Roy is a freshman member elected in 2018, taking the seat formerly held by longtime Republican Lamar Smith.
Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.