Trump Administration Asks For Nearly $8 Billion Towards Harvey Relief Efforts

Trump Administration Asks For Nearly $8 Billion Towards Harvey Relief Efforts

Congress is expected to pass relief aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey as early as Wednesday and GOP leaders are looking to take advantage of the overwhelming political support for it by including controversial legislation to lift the debt ceiling in the overall package, multiple congressional sources tell NBC News.

The move on a $7.9 billion relief package would replenish a rapidly depleting disaster aid fund even as another storm, Hurricane Irma, churns out in the Atlantic.

Senate Republicans hope to add an increase to the government's borrowing limit, but Democrats announced Wednesday that they only support a short-term increase. "I think that is ridiculous and disgraceful, that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment when we have fellow citizens in need to respond to these hurricanes so that we do not strand them". Officials also signaled that President Donald Trump won't press his demands to fund a wall on the U.S. -Mexico border this month, a measure opposed by Democrats.

There is already widespread bipartisan agreement on the need to fund disaster relief programs for Harvey. In addition to supporting the recovery efforts in Texas, the agency is preparing for Hurricane Irma, another powerful storm that is approaching Puerto Rico and threatens to have a devastating impact on Florida.

But that doesn't mean the lower chamber will ultimately avoid such a vote: Senate Republican leaders said they plan to attach a debt-ceiling hike to Harvey aid despite conservative opposition.

The House majority leader also said that, despite the busy schedule, the GOP still intends to pass a budget this month, because "it allows us to go to reconciliation to start tax reform".

The House attached the disaster relief to a bill that updates practices for USA assistance to promote basic education in developing countries.

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"Nothing can capture how big and wide this devastation is", House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said before the vote according to A.P.

Mark Meadows, head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, issued a similar warning last week.

"The truth is that the bulk of the Republican conference do not want to attach Harvey relief to a debt ceiling", Walker told reporters. "Many Republicans simply won't vote to increase the limit without cuts elsewhere in government spending". That puts the onus back on House Republicans, many of whom oppose raising the debt limit.

The bill, the first of several installments in hurricane aid that Congress will consider, is expected to pass overwhelmingly in the House.

If the debt limit is not increased, Mnuchin might have to make decisions about which payments to prioritize and which to hold off paying.

"I believe that FEMA is going to literally run out of money this week, at the end of this week", Cornyn said. Republicans passed spending reforms with Barack Obama as president.

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