Disaster Tax Relief Bill In Jeopardy

After Harvey and Irma, Congress passed a multibillion-dollar aid package with strong bipartisan support. That consensus appears to be crumbling.


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The Capitol Dome is seen at dawn in Washington, Thursday, March 30, 2017.

Congress is preparing to take a second crack at passing disaster tax relief. The bill would provide tax breaks targeted to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The U.S. House tried and failed to pass the bill Monday, in a vote that broke down largely on party lines.

House Republicans tried to suspend the rules and pass the bill without first holding committee hearings. Suspending the rules requires a two-thirds majority. Nearly the entire Democratic caucus voted no, along with eight Republicans.

Congressman Kevin Brady of The Woodlands, the bill's author, released a statement condemning House Democrats, saying their action, "embodied the very worst of Washington, putting politics ahead of people."

On the other side of the Capitol, Senator John Cornyn accused Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of holding the bill hostage. "If we were talking about earthquake victims in San Francisco instead of a hurricane relief in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, surely she wouldn't be playing politics like she is now with this important hurricane relief package," he said.

But Democrats say it's the Republicans who are playing politics, tying disaster relief to an FAA reauthorization measure that could privatize the nation's air traffic control system.

"We've got people that have had their houses removed in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, hospitals that have been closed, dams that are about to break, and we're sitting around here piddling with partisan politics," said Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings at a meeting of the House Rules Committee.

The committee sent the bill back to the House floor. A vote could take place Thursday.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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