House passes $7.85 billion aid package for Hurricane Harvey victims

Kristopher Drake
September 7, 2017

Under this plan, the House would pass the almost $8 billion Harvey relief bill on Wednesday.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Wednesday that Democrats would vote for a Harvey aid package and a short-term debt limit measure of three months given "Republican difficulty in finding votes for their plan".

The president spoke just after he met in the White House with the leaders of both parties.

Conservatives, in particular, expressed frustration with any plan pairing the two issues before leadership had a chance to explain it. Conservatives had hoped to keep the two measures separate as a way to prevent a debt-limit increase that didn't include spending reforms, though Republicans have little leverage to push for reforms because raising the debt limit will require Democratic votes.

This week's package is just an early downpayment, with $7.4 billion going to FEMA and another $450 million for the Small Business Administration, which doles out loans to help small businesses get back on their feet after disasters.

House Republican leaders recognize that a majority of their own members don't want to vote for a measure to raise the debt ceiling.

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

The day before, GOP leaders in the Senate announced they would attach a provision addressing the looming debt ceiling deadline onto a Hurricane Harvey relief bill.

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. "And they want to play politics with the debt ceiling?" he said. The Senate has not said when or how it will vote on Harvey aid.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Congress won't leave town for the weekend without getting a Harvey aid bill done. This puts at risk not just the relief package but also about 100 million bills for things like Social Security, Medicare and payments to businesses that provide the USA government with services and goods.

While his vocal support suggests the idea could get broad support from Republicans, Cornyn, who is the GOP whip, said he had not had time to gauge all his colleagues - though he added he "believe (s) that's the plan". Trump will delay the end of the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, for six months to give Congress the ability pass legislation to codify the protections President Barack Obama created.

Senior Texas U.S. Sen.

But Schumer discussed other legislation that Democrats see as priorities. That will strand the aid that we need to bring to the victims of these storms that have occurred or are about to occur and then also want to threaten default on our debt.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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