U.S. Capitol at dawn (copy)

In this file photo, the U.S. Capitol is seen at dawn in Washington D.C. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON — In a shocking turn of events on Friday, a freshman congressman from Texas blocked what was expected to be an easy passage of a $19 billion disaster aid package that would also prevent the National Flood Insurance Program from lapsing next week.

U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, objected to the bill sailing through without a recorded vote just before Congress was scheduled for a week-long Memorial Day holiday break. Thanks to a maneuver by U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, both Louisiana Republicans, an NFIP safetynet bill likely will be passed in a procedural vote next week before the program expires on Friday.

The House already has passed a separate bipartisan NFIP extension through the end of September without objection, so the vote isn't expected to raise objections like the disaster aid package did.

“The House acted unanimously to extend NFIP earlier this month, and it’s unfortunate the Senate has not taken up the House bill," U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise's office said in a statement. "While Whip Scalise prefers a longer term renewal of the program, it’s now up to Speaker Pelosi to bring the shorter-term Senate bill to the House floor so we can at least prevent a lapse in the program. It’s critical that Louisiana families and small businesses have peace of mind that NFIP is extended, and Whip Scalise will continue fighting for a long-term extension.”

Roy's office hasn't responded to calls and emails for comment on his objection's impact on the NFIP.

On Twitter, Roy responded to an Advocate reporter's question about the issue, saying it was his understanding that the two-week safetynet extension would be implemented. He didn't immediately respond to a follow up question.

In raising his objection on the House floor, Roy cited his concern that the disaster aid package didn't include money that the Trump administration sought for efforts to curb illegal immigration at the southern border and that it would pass without a roll call vote from the House. Senate leaders on Thursday said the White House had signed off on the final deal, though. The Democrat-controlled House already voted in favor of the initial aid package that didn't include the NFIP language 257-150, with Roy voting against the proposal. It needed a second vote for final passage to adopt changes made by the Senate, including the NFIP provision.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, called the move Friday both a "last-minute sabotage" and an "act of staggering political cynicism."

"Countless American families hit by devastating natural disasters across the country will now be denied the relief they urgently need," she said in a statement.


Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.