It was supposed to be smooth sailing. On Thursday, the Senate passed a $19.1 billion “disaster relief” package. In it there was money for everything except the humanitarian and national security disaster on our southern border. The bill made its way to the House today, just as everyone was un-assing Washington for the Memorial Day recess. In a nearly empty House, former Clinton HHS Secretary and BFF of former Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno and now a representative from Florida, Donna Shalala asked for unanimous consent to move the bill from committee to the floor and pass it. This sleight of hand not only speeded up the process but allowed the bill to pass without a recorded vote and a quorum. (Full disclosure, I have seen Donna Shalala, at close range, in tennis whites in Montrose Park in DC and I still suffer from the nightmares.)
Via the Washington Post:
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) voted to block the legislation, which has the support of President Trump and easily passed the Senate on Thursday. His move was met with immediate criticism, including from Republicans representing disaster-hit areas where millions of Americans have been awaiting federal help for months.
Roy said he was objecting to the bill because it would add to the country’s debt, as well as because it left out $4.4 billion in additional spending for federal operations along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“This is a bill that includes nothing to address the clear national emergency and humanitarian crisis we face at our southern border,” Roy said in a near-empty House chamber, adding: “We’ve got emergency requests right now from the administration.”
The White House had initially pushed lawmakers to include the new funding in the disaster bill, but the funds were left out of a Senate compromise measure reached this week to move the aid package forward. Roy described the $4.4 billion as “quite modest.”
Following Roy’s objection, the House ended its session. The House is set to have another “pro forma” session — one with few lawmakers present — on Tuesday, at which time the chamber is expected to try again to pass the legislation by unanimous consent.
This bill is going to pass and it might even be laudable…though I think we’ve spent enough money on Puerto Rico now to fly every resident there to the state of their choice and buy them a house. But it shouldn’t pass without a roll call vote. It shouldn’t pass with an overwhelming majority of the House not even present.
As Andrew Jackson is reputed to have said, “One man with courage is a majority.” If that is the case, Roy became Speaker today because he showed more courage that the rest of that body combined.