House overwhelmingly passes $7.9 billion Harvey aid package

Trevor Jackson
September 7, 2017

The House passed a bill Wednesday allocating $7.85 billion for Hurricane Harvey relief funding with near unanimous support.

The first installment in Harvey aid is to handle the immediate emergency needs and replenish Federal Emergency Management Agency reserves in advance of Hurricane Irma, which is barreling through the Caribbean toward Florida.

If Congress doesn't increase the country's borrowing limit by September 29, the government will shut down.

"In addition to a recovery package for Houston, we have to pass appropriations to keep the government open, raise the debt ceiling, protect the Dreamers, provide certainty on the cost-sharing programs that keep health care premiums down, and much, much more", he said. There, McConnell is expected to tie that aid to an increase in the debt ceiling and pass them together as a package. Democrats have also been cool to the approach.

Lawmakers from across the nation rallied behind the funding request, though some Democrats from NY and New Jersey chided Texas Republicans, including Cornyn and Cruz, who had opposed a final aid package for Superstorm Sandy, which hit the East Coast in 2005.

Most of the money would go to FEMA's disaster relief fund. "As Democratic leaders, we also made it clear that we strongly believe the DREAM Act must come to the floor and pass as soon as possible and we will not rest until we get this done".

The 419 to 3 vote Wednesday sent the aid package - likely the first of several - to the Senate in hopes of sending the bill to President Donald Trump before dwindling disaster reserves run out at the end of this week. As of Thursday, there was just $2.1 billion left in FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky have hard tasks ahead as they contend with warring factions in their own party and a president who won't hesitate to criticize them.

"If we resort to just kicking the can down the road on the debt, it only shows that Republicans do not take the problem of our $20 trillion debt seriously", Walker said in a statement.

The House's two big, fiscally conservative groups - the House Freedom Caucus and the Republican Study Committee - have already expressed reservations about a combo vote. Then the Senate would attach a debt ceiling increase or suspension. That puts the onus back on House Republicans, many of whom oppose raising the debt limit.

Politics has gotten to the point that I literally don't understand it anymore.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Congress won't leave town for the weekend without getting a Harvey aid bill done.

The Senate is expected to attach the money to a debt-limit vote later this week.

Both Amash and Massie also opposed approving aid for Hurricane Sandy in 2013, along with all but 49 of their fellow House Republicans.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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