House passes $7.8B aid bill for Hurricane Harvey

House passes $7.8B aid bill for Hurricane Harvey

The Wisconsin Republican told reporters it was a "ridiculous idea" and said this was no time to play politics with the debt ceiling as Texas recovers from the devastation of Harvey and Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida.

The bill prepared by the House Appropriations Committee matches the full $7.85 billion White House request, which includes $7.4 billion for FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund and $450 million to to support the Small Business Administration's disaster loan program.

If the first Harvey measure passes, Congress is also expected in the coming weeks or months to agree to billions more in additional aid, with much of the first batch replenishing Federal Emergency Management Agency coffers.

With a pressing deadline at the end of the month to raise the debt ceiling or go into default, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the White House wants Congress to attach the debt ceiling bill to disaster relief aid.

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.

The US Senate will vote on the measure in the next days and may link the aid to increase the ceiling on the national debt. Those two items would also be tied to a measure to keep the government open through the end of December, setting up a hugely complicated year end crush of must-pass items. "We have no excuse why we can't do it now with Republican leadership".

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"I think it's a awful idea", said House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who conceded that conservatives were getting outmaneuvered. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday pledged their "support" to raise the debt ceiling and approve Harvey relief, with a highly political caveat.

"This takes 60 votes in the Senate", Ryan said. The GOP hopes to have the bill on President Donald Trump's desk by Friday.

The House GOP meets next Tuesday morning, and the Senate GOP for weekly lunch Tuesday afternoon, at which point the strategy for Harvey recovery funds and the debt limit will likely be clarified.

"There's a good chance that Harvey makes all that a little easier", Yarmuth said. "There will be many ongoing discussions in Congress about passing that relief package".

This a big win for Democrats, as Trump's volatility has come back to bite Ryan and McConnell. If GOP leaders want to try again, they'll need to act this month as a legislative tactic they've used to try to win passage in the Senate will expire on September 30.

And the clock is ticking on a Republican plan to overhaul the USA tax code. GOP lawmakers warn that failing to pass tax legislation or other Republican priorities could cost the party its congressional majority. Republicans passed spending reforms with Barack Obama as president.