Senate to vote on disaster aid bill next week

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCrunch time for Senate disaster aid talks Maryland raises legal tobacco purchasing age to 21 This week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination MORE (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the Senate will vote next week on disaster recovery legislation, even if negotiators haven’t reached a deal.

“We’re going to have a vote next week,” McConnell told reporters during a weekly press conference.

McConnell added that he hopes the vote will be on a bipartisan agreement President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawsuit alleges Trump campaign paid women less than men Graham encourages Donald Trump Jr. to plead the 5th Crunch time for Senate disaster aid talks MORE would sign. But regardless, he warned that he will force a vote before Congress leaves town for a weeklong Memorial Day recess.

“I hope it’s a vote on a deal that has been reached by both sides of the aisle and the White House. If not, we will be having a vote because I’m not going to be sending members of either party home to these storm- and flood-ravaged states without at least some action,” he said.

A bill to provide disaster recovery money for a recent spate of storms, wildfires and hurricanes derailed in the Senate in April after Trump criticized Puerto Rico during a closed-door GOP lunch. 

McConnell had previously indicated that he wanted to resolve the issue before lawmakers left for the Memorial Day recess but hadn’t specifically threatened to force a vote even if there was not an agreement.

Senators indicated earlier Tuesday that they were closing in on a deal that could tee them up to have a bill to vote on next week.

Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyCrunch time for Senate disaster aid talks On The Money: New tariffs on China pose major risk for Trump | Senators sound alarm over looming budget battles | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders team up against payday lenders Senate GOP grows frustrated with Trump chief of staff MORE (R-Ala.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, held his fingers roughly two inches apart from each other to indicate how close they were to an agreement.

“It’s closer than I think it’s been … in weeks,” he told reporters.

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Pentagon approves transfer of .5B to border wall | Dems blast move | House Dem pushes Pelosi to sue over Trump’s Yemen veto Pentagon approves transfer of .5B to Trump border wall from Afghan forces, other accounts Senators sound alarm over looming budget, shutdown battles MORE (Vt.), the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, told reporters on Tuesday that they were close to a deal.

Senators have been exchanging offers and indicated on Tuesday that they had largely resolved the fight over funding for Puerto Rico, after the initial GOP bill included only $600 million in food stamp aid.

“There are still some outstanding issues, but on Puerto Rico they are moving strongly in our direction,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerChina promised to stop fentanyl traffickers, Congress must hold them to it Schumer urging Pompeo to warn Putin of consequences if Russia interferes in election Call Trump’s tax cut what it was: Keynesian MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters on Tuesday.

Asked what had happened during the negotiations, Schumer added, “They’ve basically gone along with what Senator Leahy and I asked for for Puerto Rico.”

But as of Monday evening, at least two hurdles remained in the talks: an effort to include the White House’s $4.5 billion request for emergency border money and a fight over including harbor maintenance funds, which would benefit states such as Shelby’s.

Shelby argued on Monday that including the money shouldn’t be controversial if it’s understood. Pressed if he thought White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyCrunch time for Senate disaster aid talks Trump Jr. subpoena sparks internal GOP battle On The Money: New tariffs on China pose major risk for Trump | Senators sound alarm over looming budget battles | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders team up against payday lenders MORE understood it, he added, “Well, you got to want to understand it.”

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