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Senate passes $36.5B disaster aid bill; Trump signature next

Photo credit: RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Senate has passed a $36.5 billion emergency aid measure to refill disaster accounts, provide a much-needed cash infusion to Puerto Rico, and bail out the federal flood insurance program with $16 billion so that it can keep paying claims.

The 82-17 vote sends the measure to the White House, which says President Donald Trump will sign it. It comes as government reserves for disaster response and flood insurance claims are running out.

The disaster bill brings the total approved by Congress during this fall’s disastrous hurricane season to more than $50 billion — and that’s before requests expected soon to cover damage to water and navigation projects, crop losses, damage to public buildings and infrastructure, and to help homeowners without flood insurance rebuild their homes.