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House passes Puerto Rico emergency aid bill, fate remains uncertain

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (Nexstar) – Puerto Rico is getting some help from the federal government as residents rebuild after a string of devastating earthquakes, but the fate of the emergency aid package is far from certain.

“The YAYs are 237 and the NAYs are 161. The bill is passed,” Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) said Friday.

Castor, who represents Tampa, shared the news of new emergency funding for the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico following last month’s series of devastating earthquakes.

“This funding will provide substantial help to the people of Puerto Rico,” Rep. David Price (D-NC) said.

The nearly $5 billion will help cover energy costs and repair infrastructure that is still recovering from the hurricanes that hit two years ago.

Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur said this is a vital lifeline for the U.S. territory.

“This body sends a powerful message to the island community this house will not let you suffer from inaction by this administration,” Kaptur (D-OH) said.

Democrats have criticized the Trump administration for its delay in recovery funding. But on Friday, House Republicans pushed back on whether additional funding is necessary.

“I don’t know that we really need to be rushing in to allocate another $5 billion in aid when there is so much money that’s already available to be used for this disaster,” Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) said.

Rep. Rice and Louisiana Congressman Garret Graves made the case that they need to ensure the funds already allocated were used appropriately.

“Dumping additional money on top of the tens of billions of dollars doesn’t solve the problem,” Graves (R-LA) said.

After the vote, the White House issued a statement strongly opposing the legislation for those same reasons.

If the bill makes it past the Senate, the president’s advisers said they will recommend a veto.

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