The Senate is hoping to hold a vote on promised multibillion-dollar disaster aid package next week, Senate aides have said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been urging his colleagues in the chamber to vote on the package before the Memorial Day recess, Politico informs. Whether the vote will take place next week is yet to be determined, but Senator Richard Shelby, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee expressed optimism that the two sides could come to an agreement by then.
“Next week is the week before a big break. I can’t predict what will happen, but I think something is either going to hit the floor dealing with that, or maybe we’ll all come to an agreement,” he said.
Shelby stressed that they were working together to reach a deal before Memorial Day recess, indicating that disagreements lawmakers had encountered may be overcome. The major obstacle to a deal has been funding for Puerto Rico, which is still reeling from the two devastating hurricanes that hit the island in 2017.
While President Donald Trump has been insisting the island is getting more money than it needs, Democrats have been adamant that more funds be allocated to help Puerto Rico. This has resulted in a clash and a snag in negotiations.
On Monday, McConnell urged lawmakers on both aisles of Congress to put aside their differences and “identify our common ground and produce an outcome for the American people.”
“Disaster assistance should not be a partisan issue — it’s been over half a year since many of these disasters hit,” he pointed out.
There is optimism on the Democratic side as well, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer saying that the bipartisan vote in the House was a positive sign for negotiations.
“It’s encouraging that Republicans are beginning to realize that Puerto Rico needs help, or at least that they have to be part of the aid package. I hope those green shoots soon bear fruit and we can send something to the president’s desk and give the relief to all of those who need it,” Schumer said.