In Washington on Friday, a bill allocating $19.1 billion for disaster relief was stalled after a single Republican member of the House refused to support it. The money included the release of grant funds that Congress had approved after Hurricane Harvey. The lone holdout in the House was Rep. Chip Roy from Texas, whose 21st Congressional District stretches from Austin to San Antonio.
Rebecca Deen is chair and associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Texas at Arlington. She says the Senate had passed the disaster relief bill, and the president had expressed his approval. When the bill reached the House, most members had already left for a Memorial Day break. Deen says only three members remained on the House floor when the bill was considered.
“They were trying to get this passed by unanimous consent,” Deen says. “It requires everybody.”
Roy objected, stalling the legislation until it can be brought up again, most likely when the House returns next week.
Roy opposes the bill on three counts: the bill’s fiscal impact; the use of unanimous consent rules to pass the bill, rather than a full vote of the House; and his desire to see the president’s border funding bill taken up.
Deen says Roy’s fellow conservatives applauded his move, and his profile has risen among conservatives around the country.
The disaster relief bill will probably become law, Deen says. And it’s more about rule-making than about the amount of funding involved. Congress has already allocated the money set to go to areas affected by disasters in Texas, Puerto Rico and elsewhere.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.