Special to the
Alabama’s largest farm organization applauded final passage of a $19.1 billion disaster package last week by the U.S. House of Representatives.The bill was signed by President Donald Trump.
“Alabama farmers were hit hard by hurricanes, and families also have been devastated by tornadoes,” said Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “Passage of disaster relief is long overdue. We thank Sen. Richard Shelby, Rep. Martha Roby and other members of Alabama’s congressional delegation for keeping these concerns at the forefront and President Trump for agreeing to sign this legislation.”
Following months of debate over disaster funding for Puerto Rico and the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border, the House overwhelmingly approved the aid package by a 354-58 vote.
The disaster relief bill provides aid for states affected by disasters in 2018 and 2019, as well as ongoing relief for disasters that occurred in 2017 including: agriculture disaster relief for farmers; development grants for small, rural communities; assistance for veterans’ health facilities and military construction projects; emergency funds for timber, watershed and wastewater infrastructure needs; and resources to restore highways, aviation facilities and other transit projects.
Shelby, who serves as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced an agreement with Congressional leaders and the Trump Administration May 23, just hours before the Senate voted 85-8 in favor of the package. Following House passage, he expressed disappointment in the time required to pass disaster relief.
“A lot of people were waiting too long,” Shelby said. “I think we could do better. I don’t think it was our best show.”
Roby, whose 2nd Congressional District was battered by Hurricane Michael, has been an outspoken advocate for disaster assistance.
“For eight long months, farmers in the Wiregrass and throughout the Southeast have waited for disaster relief aid after Hurricane Michael devastated the region last October,” she said. “I am very proud that Congress has at last delivered this long-overdue assistance, and I am eager to see President Trump sign this bill into law to finally help the many Americans who have suffered extreme devastation in the wake of natural disasters across the country.”