Even in these increasingly partisan times, it wasn't so long ago that Republicans and Democrats could at least agree on matters that involved relief funding for areas hit hard by disasters.
But even that has become a slog in the past few years. That's illustrated by the current stalemate over a disaster aid bill aimed at providing help to people in hurricane-slammed Puerto Rico, farmers and others victimized by hurricanes and floods in various parts of the United States, and rebuilding southern military bases.
It's been going on for months, even after the U.S. House passed a $14 billion relief measure in January. But that bill hasn't been able to gain any traction in the U.S. Senate because Democrats there and GOP President Donald Trump are fighting over aid to Puerto Rico. The president is feuding with Democratic officials in Puerto Rico.
Meanwhile, the Democratic-controlled House last week passed a $19 billion relief bill, which Trump urged House Republicans to vote against. The price tag has gone up because Midwestern floods have added billions of dollars to the government's roster of disaster needs. Also, a rising wave of Central American migrants seeking refuge from violence in their countries is requiring additional billions of dollars to house and care for thousands of migrants, The Associated Press reported, and that's prompting disagreement among Democrats and the GOP.
Many congressional Republicans contend that any relief bill also should include $4.5 billion requested by the Trump administration for increased humanitarian aid and law enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border, a move that many Democrats oppose.
Clearly, the whole issue is caught up by party politics, as well as Trump's demands.
So, will any relief be coming to those who have been hit hard?
Perhaps not all is lost.
The president tweets about a non-partisan fix, so presumably he may be open to compromise. There also were signs that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle may be ready to give a little.
Republicans have offered to add money for Puerto Rico and flooded Midwestern states. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told the AP that some parts of the president's border money request possibly could be added.
What all members of Congress and the president need to remember that people victimized by various tragedies are awaiting help. That should be top of mind as they move forward, and it should be reason enough for them to reach a deal that will start that help moving.
Already, West Virginians have been affected by how slowly the federal government reacts to disasters that put people's lives in massive disarray. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., along with several of his Senate colleagues, last week called for the Office of Management and Budget to release $16 billion in long-awaited disaster relief funding within 60 days to nine states and two U.S. territories, including West Virginia, Texas and Puerto Rico. That money was approved as part of legislation approved in 2018. In West Virginia's case, the money was to help people affected by the massive flooding in 2016. Yet, more than a year after approval, the money has not been released, and there has really been no explanation from the Trump administration as to why, according to Manchin.
The government is supposed to serve people in need. But between the already approved money that has not been forthcoming and the politics holding up approval of more funding to assist those hard hit by disaster, that has certainly not been the case.