Congress

Rep. Chip Roy won’t object to disaster aid package today, but others may

Texas freshman's objection who held up passage last week

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, objected last week when the House tried to pass a disaster aid bill using unanimous consent during a pro forma session when most members were out of town. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Texas GOP lawmaker who blocked passage of a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill on Friday won’t be in the chamber Tuesday afternoon when the House reconvenes for another pro forma session. 

But with any lawmaker able to object to a new unanimous consent request, the odds of ramming the relief bill through the chamber without a recorded vote during this recess week remain shaky.

[Who is Rep. Chip Roy?]

Robert Donachie, a top aide to Rep. Chip Roy, who objected to the request Friday, said Tuesday morning that Roy planned to remain in Austin and wouldn’t be traveling to Washington to renew his objection should Democrats try again.

Another request is expected Tuesday, based on comments from Democratic lawmakers including Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., who said on Friday that “we will take action as early as next week when the House meets again during pro forma.”

Donachie wouldn’t comment on whether he knew of any other potential objections Tuesday, but he advised watching the floor during the pro forma scheduled for 2 p.m.

[GOP Rep. causes $19.1 billion disaster aid bill to stall in House]

Roy said last week that he blocked the UC request due to concerns about process as well as leaving out billions of dollars the Trump administration sought to help agencies deal with an unprecedented surge of migrants at the Mexican border. 

House and Senate negotiators reached agreement on the disaster bill on Thursday after dropping the border aid title in a dispute over information sharing provisions that Democrats believed could prevent unaccompanied children from being released from custody to family members. 

The deal came after the House took its last roll call votes before the weeklong Memorial Day break, therefore the only way that chamber can clear the bill this week is through unanimous consent, unless Democratic leaders end the recess early and bring members back. The next opportunity for a UC will come Thursday at 4:30 p.m., if an objection is heard Tuesday.

The Senate approved the bill in an 85-8 vote on Thursday, making the House the last obstacle before the bill can head to President Donald Trump’s desk.

[Senate passes long-stalled disaster aid bill with Trump support]

Trump has said he plans to sign the legislation, which likely has the votes to clear the House once lawmakers return from recess, even if they can’t clear it by UC this week. Roy’s blockade was too much for fellow Texas Republican and House Appropriations ranking member Kay Granger, who called his move a “political stunt” on Friday.

“As Republicans and as conservatives, we believe that there is no more important function for the federal government than to be there during disasters,” Granger said in a statement. She noted the measure would free up $4 billion in relief funds for Texas through the Community Development Block Grant program dating back to Hurricane Harvey in 2017, while providing new assistance for areas hit by flooding and tornadoes this year and last. 

Some Republicans pushing for aid laid the blame at the feet of House Democratic leaders, arguing there’s no reason they had to leave town before voting on the bill.

“I’m disappointed that Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi closed the House of Representatives down before they could vote on this ... because politicians wanted to leave early” for the Memorial Day break, Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters Tuesday. 

Grassley said he assumes the measure will clear the House next week “as soon as they get back in session.“ 

Doug Sword contributed to this report.

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