United States lawmakers approve major Hurricane Harvey aid package

Randolph Lopez
September 7, 2017

The House wasted little time in approving the first billions in Hurricane Harvey disaster relief as both sides of the aisle joined forces to offer words and support for those affected.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday said they would back the Harvey aid if it is linked to a three-month debt increase, not the longer term debt hike that Republicans are seeking.

While Democrats were in agreement about the need for the funding, Rep. Joseph Crowley and Rep. Eliot Engel, both of NY, pointed out that 20 Texas Republicans voted against a relief bill when Superstorm Sandy caused havoc in Northeast states in 2012.

After a White House meeting between President Donald Trump and congressional leaders from both parties, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced that they had reached a deal to tie the Harvey aid to short-term measures to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling through December 15.

But in 2010, as a member of the House minority, Ryan vocally opposed an increase in the debt ceiling without concessions. The House on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, passed President Donald Trump's request for a $7.9 billion first installment of relief for victims of Harvey.

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Some conservative GOP lawmakers in the House have suggested spending cuts elsewhere to offset the new outlay of money to FEMA.

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FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund had just $541 million "immediately available" for Harvey response and recovery efforts, an agency spokeswoman told Bloomberg on Tuesday. Ryan said it would be "ridiculous and disgraceful" for Democrats to leverage the debt ceiling for their agenda when Harvey caused historic damage and Hurricane Irma threatens to strike Florida.

Some House conservatives are opposed to directly pairing disaster aid with a debt limit increase. Senate leaders will only add it if House leaders believe they can pass it.

Then Treasure Secretary Steve Mnuchin made a plea on "Fox News Sunday" this past weekend for Congress to increase the borrowing authority along with a Harvey aid package, amid fears the government won't have enough cash to help Harvey victims in immediate need of assistance.

Of course, increasing the debt limit without taking a look at the nation's spending just perpetuates the problem.

If a debt limit provision isn't added to the Harvey bill, GOP leader could add it to the stopgap spending bill, which is also likely to contain necessary extensions for other expiring programs like federal flood insurance and the Federal Aviation Administration.

And the clock is ticking on a Republican plan to overhaul the US tax code. "If the Republican Party can't pass health care, can't pass tax reform, can't be fiscally responsible what are we?"

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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