White House Wants Congress to Tie Harvey Funds to Debt Ceiling Rise

Saul Bowman
September 4, 2017

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Sunday that Congress should tie Hurricane Harvey aid to an increase in the federal debt limit. The United States is on track to hit its mandated debt limit by the end of the month unless Congress increases it.

"Providing aid in the wake of Harvey and raising the debt ceiling are both important issues, and Democrats want to work to do both", said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California in a joint statement Sunday. Republican lawmakers, who control both houses of Congress, have traditionally resisted raising the debt ceiling, but linking the issue to Harvey aid could force their hand with people suffering and large areas of the fourth-largest USA city under water.

"The President and I believe that it should be tied to the Harvey funding".

"Quite the contrary", Mr. Mnuchin told "Fox News Sunday".

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a joint statement that Democrats will work with Republicans for a deal on the debt ceiling and Harvey money. So, we need to put politics aside and we're going to be urging Congress to get both of those things done as quickly as they can. Last month, he tweeted a complaint that Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected his own idea of pairing a debt limit hike with a popular veterans affairs bill.

The debt ceiling is a legislative limit on how much money the federal government can borrow from the US Treasury Department to fund its budget deficits and meet financial obligations.

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, said he wouldn't be opposed to combining the two measures and said the urgency of Harvey disaster relief provides "another reason as to why you want to keep the government open".

Trump is asking for at least $7.9 billion in disaster relief.

The Republican-controlled Congress - which includes fiscal conservatives adverse to more spending or borrowing - must upon returning also promptly agree on another key issue, passing a spending resolution to keep the federal government fully operational past September 30. We need to help the people in Texas, and we need to get that done.

More than 436,000 households have registered for FEMA aid, according to the White House.

Flood waters in Houston during Tropical Storm Harvey.

. The storm brought five straight days of rain totaling close to 52 inches (1.3 meters) in one location, the heaviest tropical downpour ever recorded in the continental U.S.

Blunt said relief money should be given out multiple times on an as-needed basis rather than in a large lump sum as was done for Hurricane Sandy in 2002.

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