This bill was one of many attempts by House Democrats to end the partial government shutdown without funding for a southern border wall. The bill would provide funding for emergency disaster relief for the rest of fiscal year 2019 (through September), in addition to reopening the agencies whose funding lapsed at the start of the partial government shutdown until February 8, 2019 (a so called “continuing resolution”).
House Democrats issued a press release on passage of the bill. The release explains the rationale for the bill and the proposed distribution of $14.17 billion in emergency disaster relief funding.
On December 22, 2018 the 115th Congress was unable to reach a deal to fund some federal agencies through fiscal year 2019 after President Trump demanded $5 billion in funding for a southern border wall. The Senate had unanimously passed a bill to fund the government through 2019, without the border wall, the then Republican-controlled House amended the bill adding $5 billion in funding for a southern border wall. The Senate neglected to vote on that bill leaving it to die in the previous Congress. When funding lapsed for the USDA, FDA, and Departments of Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Interior, Environment, State, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, the partial government shutdown began. When the 116th Congress began in 2019, Democrats took control of the House. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made it clear that the House does not plan to approve funding for the border wall in any future appropriations bills. As of January 24, House Democrats have passed ten different bills that would completely or partially reopen the federal government. Only H.R. 268 has been considered by the Senate, where Republican and Democratic amendments to the bill both failed.