WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 03: US President Donald Trump speaks to the media before boarding Marine One to depart from the White House, on October 3, 2017 in...
Mark Wilson

Losing yet another fight, Trump backs down on disaster-relief funding

Updated

Congress’ disaster-relief package has been stuck in Congress for months because Donald Trump had some specific demands: he wanted the legislation to include billions of dollars for the border, and he insisted the bill exclude additional aid for Puerto Rico.

How’d that work out for him?

The Senate on Thursday passed a bipartisan deal that would provide more than $19 billion in disaster aid funding to parts of the United States hit by hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes and wildfires, following months of negotiation.

Leaving a closed-door Senate Republican lunch earlier in the day, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told reporters that … he had spoken to President Donald Trump on Thursday afternoon about the parameters of the deal, which excluded the $4.5 billion in border funding that the White House and the Republicans kept demanding. […]

According to a breakdown of the bill from Shelby’s office, it provided about $900 million to Puerto Rico, which was ravaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017. That money would go toward nutrition assistance and a community development block grant, both of which were key Democratic priorities.

Oh. So Democrats are getting effectively all of what they wanted, while the White House is getting none of what it demanded.

Far-right lawmakers urged the president to reject the offer, but Trump apparently realized he’d lost. “I totally support it,” he told reporters yesterday, referring to the package he needlessly delayed.

The scope of the president’s defeat isn’t limited to the fact that he’s failed to get what he wants; it’s also about the timing: Trump held up an uncontroversial bill, delaying assistance to Americans who need it. Those communities were effectively told to be patient while the political wrangling continued.

It wasn’t until yesterday that Trump caved, accepting a deal he could’ve had weeks ago, with nothing to show for his efforts.

The Senate passed the relief package yesterday afternoon on a vote of 85 to 8. (Each of the “no” votes came from Republicans.) Though much of the House has already left town ahead of the Memorial Day break, the lower chamber will try to advance the bill today.