The House will vote Wednesday to approve almost $8 billion in Hurricane Harvey relief funds, days after President Trump requested $7.85 billion from Congress in immediate supplemental aid. We've got another unprecedented hurricane about to hit Florida, and they want to play politics with the debt ceiling? But divisions remain among both House and Senate Republicans about tying the aid to the debt-limit increase.
The House is nevertheless expected to easily pass the Harvey aid bill on the initial vote.
He spoke as the House was poised to approve $8 billion in Hurricane Harvey relief money, after which the bill would go to the Senate.
"The red flags that the White House waved are real", House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said Tuesday. Most of that money would go to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, while about $450 million would go to the Small Business Administration's disaster loan program.
Some conservatives are also expecting a continuing resolution, also known as the CR, to temporarily extend current levels of government spending to be added to the Harvey aid package as well.
Congress, back from its August vacation, has less than a month to avert a default on the nation's debt and avoid a government shutdown. More relief packages will follow, as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has said his state could need as much as $125 billion to help its recovery, which was the amount allocated for Katrina in 2005.
The framework of a plan to deal with the huge number of looming deadlines facing Congress appeared to take shape Wednesday, but Republicans and Democrats still squabbled over the details of the plan.
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The Senate could add a debt-ceiling increase to the bill once it arrives from the House. Such a strategy might make it easier for the debt ceiling bill to pass, since Republicans are divided on raising the debt limit but Harvey aid has wide bipartisan support.
Though McConnell is expected to link Harvey aid to a debt ceiling measure, it was not yet clear on Wednesday which iteration of the pairing would receive the most support. Officials also signaled that President Donald Trump won't press his demands to fund a wall on the U.S. -Mexico border this month, a measure opposed by Democrats.
While some GOP leaders want a longer-term increase, any votes to increase federal borrowing are always hard for members of Congress, particularly fiscal conservatives principally opposed to increasing debt and spending.
Cruz said he hoped for "strong bipartisan support ... for substantial relief from the crushing damages, and I think the best way to achieve that support is a clean relief package, not a relief bill tied to other unrelated matters".
"Any time you use a tragedy to advance something that should have had a plan without a hurricane happening is not an appropriate approach", he said. "If the Republican Party can't pass health care, can't pass tax reform, can't be fiscally responsible what are we?" "We have no excuse why we can't do it now with Republican leadership".
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, center, arrives for a meeting with House Republicans, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. "And, of course, politicians being politicians, they always just increase the debt limit".