A bipartisan group of Texas representatives on Friday sent a letter to the top leaders in the U.S. Senate asking for action on stalled legislation that would send billions of dollars to states ravaged by hurricanes and other natural disasters last year.

The letter pleads for the Senate to pass an $81 billion supplemental funding bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives before Christmas and said ongoing failure to pass the legislation was hurting hurricane victims.

“We have constituents, who, after most six months, remain in transitional housing and homes that lack weatherization as Texas remains in the grip of an unusually cold winter,” the letter stated. “It is past time for Congress to act.”

The letter was signed by U.S. Reps. Pete Olson, Sheila Jackson Lee, Randy Weber, Filemon Vela, Brian Babin, Gene Green, Blake Farenthold, Al Green, John Culberson, Michael McCaul, Ted Poe and Kevin Brady. It was addressed directly to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The bill would be the largest disaster recovery funding measure ever approved in United States history. Funds from the bill would go not only to Texas, but to Florida and Puerto Rico, which were struck by hurricanes Irma and Maria after Harvey came to Texas.

The money would also be sent to California, where wildfires destroyed tens of thousands of homes and businesses in December 2017.

But final passage has been delayed by other issues in Washington, most recently, conflict over funding the government that led to a showdown and a promised deal on immigration reform.

The congressional letter comes more than a week after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, California Gov. Jerry Brown, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and Florida Gov. Rick Scott sent their own letter asking for movement on the disaster funding bill.

“Its continued delay only exacerbates ongoing uncertainty in devastated areas,” the governors wrote. “Simply put, the communities devastated by these storms cannot be completely put back together until the federal government makes good on its promise to our citizens.”

No action has been taken on the disaster funding since it was initially read on the Senate floor Jan. 4.

Congress passed two disaster recovery bills following Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi on Aug. 25, 2017. Congress approved a $15 billion disaster recovery project in September 2017. That money went to Texas alone. In October 2017, Congress approved $36.5 billion for Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and California.

Abbott has asked for $61 billion for Texas recovery alone, and in November 2017 supplied Congress with a list of projects that could be completed in the state using federal disaster recovery money. In that request was a proposal for a barrier to be built along the coast in the Galveston area, among other local projects

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


(3) comments

Gary Miller

Senate filibuster rules are holding up more than 300 bills passed by the house. The 2018 Federal budget was passed to the senate in September. Continuing resolutions are used because the Budget has not been passed by the Senate. The $81 billion federal recovery assistance bill was passed to the Senate mid December 2017. All bills and laws passed by the House on a 50% +1 vote. The Senate should be required to use the same system.

PD Hyatt

We have not been able to pass a budget since the progressives took over in 2007 all that has happened since then is CRs.... Even though the republicans control the Senate with 1 vote as you stated they need 60 to pass it and the demon-crats will not allow it to happen.... You are right they need to change that rule so that they can get some work done for the first time in a decade....
What needs to happen is that if they can not pass a budget the House and the Senate and all of their aides should not get paid until it happens.... They should also have to not get paid until they balance the budget (cut all of the garbage out) and that should happen for every year.... Washington should have to operate with a balanced budget just like we do or a business has to....

Lou Brown

Agreed! If they all have to go without a paycheck, I am sure that the budget will get balanced a lot faster!!

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