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Trump Signs $19 Billion Disaster-Relief Bill

President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the White House, May 16, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

President Trump on Thursday signed into law a long-anticipated $19.1 billion disaster-aid package that allocates emergency funds to areas hit recently by wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes.

The bill passed the House 354–58 on Monday after weeks of delays by a group of Republicans who opposed it. The Senate had passed the measure 85–8 in May.

The package includes over $3 billion to rebuild and strengthen infrastructure vulnerable to hurricanes, about $3 billion to rebuild military and Coast Guard facilities, $3 billion for farmers, $2.4 billion in Community Development Block Grants aimed at staving off future devastation caused by natural disasters, $909 million in combined aid to Puerto Rico.

“Just signed Disaster Aid Bill to help Americans who have been hit by recent catastrophic storms,” Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday. “So important for our GREAT American farmers and ranchers.”

Before a deal on the package could be reached, Republicans had to agree to pass the bill without funding for border operations, which the president had originally requested but Democrats objected to. Another sticking point was how much additional disaster aid to grant Puerto Rico. The island’s additional requests for aid after two Category 5 hurricanes, Maria and Irma, wrought widespread devastation in 2017, had angered Trump. The president has accused territorial leaders of mismanaging the aid already granted by the federal government, and claimed that the island has more than enough funding to rebuild already.

“Puerto Rico should love President Trump. Without me, they would have been shut out!” Trump wrote on Twitter after signing the bill.

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