Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the Senate will vote next week on disaster recovery legislation. This will take place even if negotiators haven’t reached a deal.
“We’re going to have a vote next week,” McConnell told reporters during a weekly press conference.
McConnell maintained that he hopes the vote will be on a bipartisan agreement President Trump would sign. But regardless, he warned that he will force a vote before Congress leaves town for a weeklong Memorial Day recess.
“I hope it’s a vote on a deal that has been reached by both sides of the aisle and the White House. If not, we will be having a vote because I’m not going to be sending members of either party home to these storm- and flood-ravaged states without at least some action,” he said.
A previous bill to provide disaster recovery money for a recent string of storms, wildfires and hurricanes derailed in the Senate in April after Trump criticized Puerto Rico during a closed-door GOP lunch.
McConnell had previously said that he wanted to resolve the issue before lawmakers left for the Memorial Day recess but hadn’t specifically threatened to force a vote even if there was not an agreement.
Senators indicated earlier Tuesday that they were closing in on a deal that could make them ready to have a bill to vote on next week.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, held his fingers roughly two inches apart from each other to indicate how close they were to an agreement.
“It’s closer than I think it’s been … in weeks,” he told reporters.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.), the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, told reporters on Tuesday that they were close to a deal.
Senators have been exchanging offers and indicated on Tuesday that they had largely resolved the fight over funding for Puerto Rico.
”There are still some outstanding issues, but on Puerto Rico they are moving strongly in our direction,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters on Tuesday.
Asked what had happened during the negotiations, Schumer added, “They’ve basically gone along with what Senator Leahy and I asked for for Puerto Rico.”