WASHINGTON — Additional flood recovery funding for Iowa and Nebraska is on its way after the House voted Monday to send a $19.1 billion disaster relief package to President Donald Trump’s desk.
The legislation includes money intended specifically to repair storm-ravaged military installations such as Offutt Air Force Base, which was severely damaged by this year’s floodwaters.
All House members from Iowa and Nebraska voted in favor of the aid package, which was approved 354-58. All of the “nay” votes came from Republicans.
The Senate already passed the bill, but its vote came after the House had left for the Memorial Day break. The bill was then held up last week by a few conservative Republicans in the House who refused to let it pass by unanimous consent.
Some opponents were upset by the amount of overall spending in the bill, and some were disappointed that it did not include Trump’s desired funding to address the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., said it was a mistake for those Republicans to hold up the legislation.
While they had a right to request a roll call vote, it was clear that it was going to roll through with a big, bipartisan majority, he said.
And the Omaha-area congressman said he was proud to support the measure.
“Americans pull together when natural disasters strike,” he said.
Disaster relief bills typically move faster than this one, but Trump and Democrats sparred over additional disaster relief funding for Puerto Rico that he opposed and his request for the border money.
But ultimately, Trump said he didn’t want to hold up the measure any longer and agreed to sign the bill despite its inclusion of Puerto Rico funding and the absence of the border funds.
Midlands lawmakers hailed the overdue passage of the bill, including Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., a member of the Appropriations Committee.
“This is great news for Nebraskans and others who have been affected by natural disasters in recent months,” Fortenberry said in a press release. “Clearly, much more work and funding is necessary, but this legislation is a meaningful step forward as we continue the flood recovery efforts.”
Rep. Cindy Axne, a Democrat, represents southwest Iowa, which saw plenty of flooding. Axne said she has been to flood zones multiple times, speaking to families, business owners and farmers who have lost everything.
“Their resilience is inspiring, but the damage is heartbreaking,” Axne said in a statement. “These communities need our help. I’m glad Congress put politics aside and passed this crucial bill with funding for programs that Iowans need to rebuild and recover.”
The final version includes additional military funds that could deliver as much as $120 million for Offutt’s immediate needs, as well as money to restore eroded land and damaged infrastructure.
“This important relief for our nation’s environmental security will reshape eroded stream banks, repair water control structures, fix levees, and restore conservation priorities,” Fortenberry said.
Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., said the state has been devastated and can now move forward with the recovery.
“Thousands of Nebraskans were affected by blizzards, rain, wind and flooding, and this is another step as we rebuild,” Smith said.