A conservative Texas congressman who on Friday single-handedly blocked a $19 billion bipartisan disaster aid package for communities and farms devastated by hurricanes, floods and wildfires drew scathing rebukes from Democrats and even some fellow Republicans.
But not from Sen. Mike Lee, who instead gave Rep. Chip Roy an unequivocal attaboy.
“Way to fight the good fight
@chiproytx. The people of Texas are lucky to have you,” Lee tweeted.
Roy by himself was able to block the package, already passed by the Senate and endorsed by President Donald Trump, because many House members had already departed Washington for the holiday weekend. Under a parliamentary maneuver called unanimous consent, the legislation could pass without a majority vote in the House, but only if there were no opposing votes.
The freshman Texas congressman, a former chief of staff to Sen. Ted Cruz, said he opposed the package because it would increase the deficit and because it did not contain billions in spending for the president’s border wall.
Republican Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia called it a “cheap political stunt.”
Rep. Jody Hice, also R-Ga., said while Roy’s concerns were legitimate, the fact remains that “our farmers need aid today.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced Roy’s tactics as “last-minute sabotage” and an “act of staggering political cynicism.”
While blasted by many, Roy’s action was praised by some conservatives, including Lee, former Sen. Jim DeMint, the Club for Growth and Mark Krickorian, of the Center for Immigration Studies.
DeMint, Chairman of the Conservative Partnership Institute, and former head of the Heritage Foundation, called Roy a “courageous warrior and we need more like him."
Lee’s spokesman on Friday declined comment on Roy’s move or on the Utah senator’s tweet praising Roy.
Lee had joined Sen. Mitt Romney and six other Republicans in voting against the disaster package earlier in the week. The bill passed the Senate on an 85-8 bipartisan vote.
In a joint statement on Tuesday introducing a bill to budget ahead for future disasters, both Utah senators complained about the current process of emergency spending.
“By building disaster spending into the annual budget process, instead of busting our spending limits and adding to our national debt, our bill will both ensure that funding is available for disaster assistance and save taxpayers billions of dollars every year," Romney said in a prepared statement.
“The federal government should not be able to avoid difficult financial realities by simply marking funds as ‘emergency’ or ‘disaster relief,’” Lee said.
Lee has himself used the unanimous consent rule in the Senate to single-handedly block legislation, recently on a bipartisan move to protect the special counsel investigation before it concluded and separate bipartisan legislation, supported by Utah leaders and environmentalists alike, on protection of public lands.