tv Washington Journal Jennifer Shutt CSPAN May 31, 2019 6:08pm-6:41pm EDT
of "the washington examiner" talks about political dynamics driving campaign 2020 and president trump's reelection strategy. and in our spotlight on magazine segment, the new republic's matt article,s about his make the irs great again, and how democrats can use the issue in the race for the white house. also, a new report examining the loopholes federal lawmakers used to pay personal expenses. be sure to watch c-span's washington journal, live at 7:00 eastern saturday morning. join the discussion. ♪ at our table this morning. cq roll call's appropriations and budget reporter. explain, why does it keep getting blocked, this $19.1 billion disaster aid package? guest: trying to get to a bipartisan agreement on disaster aid is something that has been taking months. there's been a lot of back-and-forth between democrats
and republicans over what everyone can accept in this package. we didn't think we would get some type of final agreement before congress left town last thursday evening for their weeklong long memorial day break. lawmakers and the white house were able to come to an agreement last thursday mid-day after the house had already taken their final roll call vote. a lot of house members had already left for the airports or for their cars to drive back to their districts. it's important for members to get back in whole town halls with their constituents and hold fundraisers and see their families. the idea is once this disaster aid package was reached last was a vote and the house leadership had to decide whether they wanted to pass this through unanimous consent during
a pro forma session or weight until monday -- wait until monday. house democrats decided to do it through uc, unanimous consent. any member of the house is more than 400 nevers can stand up and block it -- members can stand up and block it. host: debbie wasserman schultz tweeting out -- a single republican blocks the disaster relief bill that would provide critical support to our still recovering communities. where is this money supposed to go? what is the impact of the hold up? guest: one of the things i want to say from the top is that if you are in one of the areas of the country experiencing these tornadoes or floods, the first on the ground federal relief is the fema disaster relief fund. that fund has billions of
dollars. it's completely fine. it's not like the federal government isn't able to show up and start helping out. what this $19 billion package is supposed to do is help communities impacted by the 2017 hurricanes, the 2018 storms and wildfires and the first few severe weather events we've had in 2019. there's a decent amount of money in here, billions of dollars, for farmers and rural areas who lost crops and livestock. there's money to rebuild military bases. there's money for the army corps of engineers to help them do mitigation projects that are supposed to reduce the impact of severe weather in the future. there's some community develop and block grants to help people rebuild their homes and infrastructure that may have been washed out by storms or destroyed by tornadoes. host: this is what jennifer shutt was just talking about.
900illion to farmers, million dollars for recovery efforts in puerto rico. no money for border operations. this past the senate 85-8. senate, 85-8. some republicans are saying we need this money. here, easterners and central parts of the country, 202-748-8000. mountain and pacific, 202-748-8001. if you've been impacted by one of these natural disasters, 202-748-8002. we want to hear from you this morning. what is the white house's response? guest: the white house hasn't had any particularly strong response. president donald trump hasn't weeded out anything about this -- tweeted out and thing about this. said it isonway
mostly that these republicans are objecting to the process. they feel there should be a recorded vote. they don't like the idea of passing it through unanimous consent. i spoke with chip roy, the first republican to vot block this, and the second republican to block this. they object to other things as well. they have concerns about the debt and spending. this does not include the money the white house requested to address the surge in migrants on the mexican border. that is an issue congress knows they need to come to a conclusion on. it was originally supposed to be in the package. it was dropped at the last minute because lawmakers wanted to get the disaster aid package through.
agree that the price tag is too high and there should be offsets to it? if it is past next week when congress returns -- passed next week when congress returns, what is the process for getting the money to these states? guest: it goes to several different agencies. they all have their own processes. we've been looking at the community development block grant program, which is run through housing and urban development. it has a few structural issues. that's one of the things lawmakers are hoping to clear up in this disaster aid package. they did a series of three different disaster aid bills after the 2017 hurricanes and andfires to help texas puerto rico start to recover. a lot of that was community development block grant funding.
they are designed to help people whose homes could be -- couldn't through rebuilt insurance or fema grants. one of the issues with that program, it is not permanently authorized by congress. every time a disaster aid bill passes, hud has to issue new guidelines, print those in the federal register. states have to come up with how they want to spend this money. they have to submit financial controls and an action plan and another plan to hud they have to agree on. the back-and-forth can take months. in this case, it has taken several months. john cornyn from texas has given a few floor speeches on this. the hope is when this disaster aid bill gets signed into law, it will speed up that process so
these can spend down billions of dollars that have been sitting around. host: bob is our first caller. good morning to you. aboutuestion or comments this disaster a debate here in washington? guest: there's already money -- caller: there's already money available for disaster. availableready money for disasters. host: you don't think washington should be spending an additional $19 billion? caller: they have been spent what they have -- haven't spent what they have. host: federal money hasn't reached disaster victims. guest: there are lots of different accounts the federal government uses to respond to natural disasters. ground ison the
fema's disaster relief fund. they haven't spent all the money. that's a good thing. if fema's fund was in the low millions, we would have a serious problem on our hands. they need that money to quickly respond when a tornado touches down or a community floods. broadly considered a good thing. they have disaster aid loans they can get to help small businesses recover afterwards. communityd's development block grant program. there's funding through the department of agriculture to help farmers. if a tornado destroys your , this is important to the community.
some programs have smaller balances than others. that is something congress debates through the appropriation process. host: what if the holdup was the president's insistence that not as much money be included in this for puerto rico? how much has puerto rico received since hurricane maria? how much money do they get under this legislation? what is the status of disaster aid for the island? guest: i don't necessarily have a final dollar amount. there's so many different accounts, it's hard to keep track of. in the three previous disaster aid bills, through the community develop anment block grant program, frederico was post received $20 billion -- puerto rico was supposed to receive $20 billion.
they have to go through that process. whichever agency is handling that for the municipality or the state, they have to apply. all these different financial controls, this has been a slow process. that is something lawmakers are concerned about. it is supposed to be cleared up by this disaster aid bill. additional $600 million for nutrition assistance. that is something both sides agreed to pretty early on. president trump was on board with that. there was a lot of behind the scenes negotiating between lawmakers and the white house how to include additional block grants to help people who still have housing issues recover and still help with the massive infrastructure issues that are still unresolved or not fixed completely after these two hurricanes devastated the
island. host: indiana. good morning to you. wondering whyjust we send so much money over to a foreign country instead of helping people around here. , you coverfer shutt budget and appropriations. can you explain the percentage of foreign aid of our total budget? how much does disaster aid makeup of that budget? can you give us an idea? guest: typically, there's two pots of money the federal government spends every year. one of those pots is mandatory. trillion mandatory spending on autopilot unless congress does a massive bill to
change how those programs are run. the other portion is discretionary spending. that's about $1.3 trillion. that is determined by congress and the white house every year through 12 annual spending bills. one of those bills is the state foreign operations spending bill. it doesn't have a high allocation. we don't spend a substantial amount of money on foreign aid and foreign countries. on thes a broader debate umbrella of money spent outside of the united states. we have bases around the world, troops deployed around the world, lots of military contractors working on research and development. one could argue either way whether that is domestic spending more international spending. most soldiers are american citizens. if you consider that domestic spending or foreign spending is
probably a contentious debate. host: where does disaster aid fall into those pots of money? is that discretionary or completely outside of those two classifications? guest: one of the 12 annual spending bills is the homeland security spending bill and fema is housed under the homeland security department. when that bill gets brought up in the house and senate , that's where that debate would take place. the disaster relief fund is not typically an area of contention. there's a formula used to determine how much it should get every year. obviously, lawmakers could plus that up if they want to. it's based on how much they spend in previous fiscal years. host: this isn't considered emergency spending? guest: this is emergency spending.
this is not one of the 12 annual appropriation bills. these come up from time to time when we have severe weather. we had a $1.1 billion spending funding for student health. the cdc got some money to address the issues -- as he got -- zika issues. congress will try to offset it a bit. in situations like this, they might not. host: jordan in north carolina. caller: i agree with the caller from florida saying they are spending too much money on these federal disasters. president that is probably concerned about that. i wanted to get her thoughts on that.
we will go to john in pennsylvania. good morning. caller: yes. i wanted to comment about -- we had a flood here about three years ago. the money they used out of their people, they've been getting their money back from the federal government for their homes. they made them demolish all the houses and they didn't get their assessment value on the homes. to rebuild some of them that they could rebuild, they could get a small loan. i don't think it's used properly, the funds they get. the state uses the money for the roads and stuff. they gave them money for the flood control, but they didn't
get their money for the people for the houses they destroyed. host: can you explain how need is determined for disaster aid funding? guest: there's a lot of different formulas the different agencies use for this. fema is typically the first one out of the gate that determines where the funding goes and how much each community gets. they are sort of the food, clothing and shelter response. one of the things that is important to note in a situation like this, if you're a homeowner, your insurance policy, you have to get the flood insurance program on that. that is something we've seen in a lot of these situations. the homeowner will get the regular policy. you are to make sure also getting the national flood
insurance program. that's one of the things we've seen time and time again in these disaster zones. people don't have flood insurance. they are really relying on nonprofit groups or state and federal government to help them rebuild. these community develop and block grants are important because that's one of the broad help states can use to rebuild these homes. if you have electrical problems or mold that needs to be addressed, that's what these programs are designed for, to help these people rebuild their lives, essentially. host: he doesn't think they are being used wisely. does the government monitor how the money is spent? can they recoup the money if it's not spent appropriately?
guest: i'm not sure. on the first question, yes, there very close monitoring -- there's very close monitoring. every federal department has an office of the inspector general. these are the watchdogs to determine whether or not an agency is wasting money. one thing we track closely is they follow this money and aboutssue reports talking how this aid was used and where improvements need to be made. there's definitely people watching how this is done. the lawmakers and their staff, they all follow this closely. they don't want to have a big scandal where money is being spent unwisely. host: that brings up puerto rico.
republicans have said they are concerned that puerto rican officials have not proven they will spend this money effectively. guest: that was part of the debate. this are guardrails in $19.1 billion disaster aid bill that would make sure there's additional oversight provisions on puerto rico. that is something everyone came to agreement on. it was not particularly contentious. host: larry in st. charles, missouri. go ahead. caller: i've been through the constitution and i've been unable to find anything that permits the federal government to have disaster aid. i'd appreciate if some but he could point that out to me. guest: the power of the purse
rests with congress. they have the legal authority under the constitution to tax and spend. this is spending. host: tommy in tennessee. caller: good morning, ladies. to follow-up up on that previous question, is money moved from one agency to another? do we borrow the money from china or whoever? acquiredhe money being to distribute to the states? guest: this bill, that's one of the objections these three republicans have made, they are concerned that this bill is not offset. we are not moving money from one account to disaster relief accounts. --y are adding this would concerned this would add a $19 billion to the debt.
the deficit right now is a bit under $1 trillion for the last fiscal year. it's a very basic revenue and spending like anyone does in their personal finances. relative. how much taxes, how much revenue is coming into the treasury and how much is going out. it'sry round numbers, about $3 trillion coming in, for trillion dollars going out -- $4 trillion going out. host: clarksburg, west virginia. frank. what happened in west virginia? 2016.: this goes back to the southern part of the state, it was really, really bad. fema, fromart is, what i understand, there was
$3.5 million sent down there. this is richwood, west virginia. they only spent $400,000 to help the people. if you go onto the site for the state auditor here, they had where under indictment $3.5 million was stolen. it's just crazy. there's other towns in west getinia still fighting to their homes built after they were tore down. shouldn'ton is people steal money for disasters. look that up. have a good day. host: phyllis in fort lauderdale. caller: hi. say the united states government needs to make sure this money is being spent
properly on the things that it should be spent on. there's a lot of corruption in puerto rico. it is taxpayer money. i want to make sure there's someone looking out for this money. host: jennifer shutt talked about the guardrails put into this $19 billion disaster aid package to oversee those funds going to artery go -- put a recoat -- puerto rico. a democrat from maryland was in the speaker's chair yesterday lonethe loan republican -- republican blocked this aid from the unanimous consent vote. [video clip] >> we don't think anyone should be playing games with disaster relief. we have americans facing cataclysmic conditions across the country because of these
extreme weather events. bedon't think they should playing parliamentary games with it. i heard it was about them wanting to build funding for the wall through disaster relief legislation. that doesn't fit. this is for disaster relief, people suffering from hurricanes and droughts and earthquakes and so on. it has nothing to do with the wall. the congress already rejected spendesident's request to tens of billions of dollars on the wall. bes not appropriate to fingerpainting on this legislation. the floodot object to insurance legislation. so, that is important legislation, too. i don't really see the rhyme or
reason there. host: what stands out to you? guest: putting border wall funding on this was never part of the discussion. the part of the discussion he's referring to, the trump supplementaln sent funding requests to congress on may 1. they were asking for additional resettlement,gee dealing with these unaccompanied children coming across the border, taking care of them. one of the things we've heard through the last month, democrats and republican broadly that helping these children is a humanitarian crisis. it is something they need to find additional funding for. thesefice taking care of children is very close to running out of money. if that happens, they've said
they will pull money from different accounts. that is not ideal. lawmakers were trying to add additional funds to address the situation to the disaster aid bill. because they cannot get final agreement on the oversight leg thursday, everyone agreed to just pass the peer disaster aid bill. lastersight language,, last thursday, everyone agreed to just past the bill.disaster aid who went friend through hurricane sandy -- the federal flood insurance program said they weren't responsible, even though the family had to
flee their home. they said it wasn't due to flood, it was due to wind. the insurance company wouldn't pay because they said it was due to flood and wasn't covered by property insurance. she had to borrow what money she 401(k) and take on credit card debt. the home was worth far less than her mortgage. that drove her into bankruptcy and ruined their lives. someone should look at the federal flood insurance program. whenever you have two insurance companies, they point the finger at each other. it was so devastating for my friend. host: jennifer shutt? guest: this is one of the issues congress does regularly look at.
was a two-weeks extension for the national flood insurance program. biggerll need to do a reauthorization. solution is to probably call your congressperson, your senators. there are people in those offices designed to do constituent service. they may be able to help with that. it sounds pretty horrible. host: kevin in roseville, new jersey. caller: good morning. yess just calling to say and thank jennifer for explaining these issues. the key word here is "help." i'm surprised these republicans are doing what they are doing to helpthis disaster aid to
people who need it. i want to thank jennifer for explaining. end: jennifer shutt, let's with going over what happens next. guest: the house and senate are both scheduled to return on monday. the senate will be holding votes around 6:30.house this bill will come up. it has broad bipartisan support. it is expected to pass the house. president trump has said that he plans on signing it. this tactic just elated by a little over a week -- delayed it by a little over a week. it delayed the aid by a few days. agencies and departments could have started using it this past week. --eek long delay is not
they've been negotiating for months. in that context, not a particularly long amount of time. if you a farmer waiting for reimbursement, i'm sure this isn't something m >> watch commencement speeches all week on c-span. tonight at 8:00 eastern, speakers include supreme court justice sonya sotomayor at manhattan college in the bronx. businesswoman and philanthropist cindy mccain delivers remarks at george washington university's school of international affairs. and we look back to 1990 and former first lady barbara bush speaking at wellesley college. watch commencement speeches tonight it'd :00 p.m. eastern on c-span. watch online anytime at c-span.org and listen on the free, c-span radio app.
♪ c-span's washington journal live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. saturday morning, jason russell from "the washington examiner" discusses political dynamics in campaign 2020. in our spotlight on magazines segment, "the new republic" writer matt ford talks about his article, make the irs great again, and how democrats can use the issue for the race for the white house. report examining loopholes federal lawmakers are using to pay personal expenses per be sure to watch c-span's washington journal, live at 7:00 eastern saturday morning per join the discussion. -- saturday morning. join the discussion. >> congress returns from its memorial day break.