Trump pushing for $6 billion in Harvey recovery funding

Remigio Civitarese
Settembre 7, 2017

Some lawmakers, including the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a close ally of Trump's, have said Harvey relief aid must be approved by Congress in a separate vote from a bill to raise the USA debt ceiling. The initial request is expected to be a down payment on a larger federal aid package, the Washington Post reported.

The Trump administration will make a request to the U.S. Congress shortly for funds to help recovery efforts from Harvey, which caused devastating flooding, White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is the largest disaster the USA has faced, with recovery costs of US$110 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Houston, was crafting legislation for $150 billion in emergency funding through almost two-dozen government agencies and departments.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has already activated the Texas National Guard, which comprises of almost 12,000 troops.

Figures of $50 billion to $80 billion were cited by Republican Representatives Pete Sessions of Texas and Leonard Lance of New Jersey on Fox Business Network.

Friday's letter, addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), said that the requested amount of $7.8 billion "would enable the affected States to address disaster response and immediate recovery needs in the areas most affected by Hurricane Harvey", including "life-saving response and recovery missions" and "addressing housing fix costs unmet by insurance; and provide low-interest loans to businesses and homeowners".

"Indeed, if the debt ceiling is not raised, it may not be possible to outlay the requested supplemental appropriations or funds for other critical Government operations", the letter reads.

It's not yet known how much money the administration will ask for in the initial request, but congressional aides expect at least enough money to carry out relief efforts through the end of the budget year on September 30. Failing to raise the debt limit would risk a market-shattering first-ever USA default.

Hailing the ongoing rescue and relief efforts, Bossert said that he was seeing an appropriate and a positive coordination between federal, state and local authorities. Then the Senate could decide to pass the same bill, or attach an increase in the debt ceiling to the legislation because it would likely have bipartisan support. And I would be happy to take those if any of you have them.

That left open the possibility that the aid package could be linked to a broad, short-term budget measure that must pass by October 1 to prevent a government shutdown.

Asked if there was still a chance of a shutdown, House tax committee Chairman Kevin Brady told Fox News Channel on Thursday, "We are going to keep this government open, we are going to pay our debts on time".

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