Lawmakers revealed the Senate plans to vote on the months-pending disaster aid package next week before their Memorial Day recess. The $17 billion bill passed through the House last week, but several snags keep the Senate from voting, including hemp regulations.
According to Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) the chances for a deal “have improved dramatically.”
Still, some issues remain. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is pushing for the bill to include language that would guarantee hemp will qualify for crop insurance by 2020. It’s not clear what effect hemp language might have on negotiations of the bill, according to The Washington Post.
McConnell, who has become known as a champion of the hemp industry, called for swift action to pass the bill on Monday.
“Disaster assistance has not been partisan. It has been over a half-year since many of these disasters hit,” McConnell said. “Our country is in need. ... I would urge Democrats and Republicans in the House as well as the Senate to identify our common ground and produce an outcome for the American people.”
Ironing Out the Kinks
Senate Republicans are responding to a demand by Democrats for Puerto Rico funding in the interest of passing a bill with major aid for various disasters, says Jim Wiesemeyer.
“I wouldn’t say it’s not an issue, but we’ve made a lot of progress there,” Shelby said of Puerto Rico funding.
As part of the considerations, Senate Democrats were evaluating the White House request to add $4.5 billion in additional southern border-related money to the bill, Wiesemeyer said.
However, Politico reports many Democrats aren’t on board with this allocation, despite administration clarification that none of the funds are being used for a border wall.