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

07 September, 2017, 01:29 | Author: Regina Lloyd
  • HARVEY Storm's aftermath testing Texas infrastructure

"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", Mnuchin said.

"The president and I believe that [the debt ceiling] should be tied to the Harvey funding. It is absolutely critical, and the president is committed to making sure that the states have the money that they need".

The House vote will come as a stand-alone measure.

Approving a Harvey aid package and beginning talks toward the GOP's top legislative priority - an overhaul of the tax system - add to the pressure.

Mnuchin tells "Fox News Sunday" that Harvey disaster aid is President Donald Trump's first priority when Congress returns from its summer break on Tuesday. While Mnuchin had previously said the final limit to raise the debt ceiling was September 29, on Sunday he said that the deadline has gotten closer due to the unexpected spending on Harvey aid. Democrats have also been cool to the approach.

The North Carolina lawmaker also said linking the two measures "puts everybody in a very hard situation" and would not be practical. In early August, Trump threatened to meet North Korea "with fire and fury like the world has never seen" if they continued along their nuclear path and threatened the USA and its allies. In fact, the nation's debt limit has already technically been reached but the Treasury Department is using numerous accounting measures to pay the bills.

With much of Washington distracted by tensions with North Korea over its nuclear program, Congress must also raise the federal debt ceiling by the end of September or early October to stave off an unprecedented US government debt default, which would shake global markets.

But on Sunday, he said that deadline had moved up due to unexpected new spending on Harvey.

Mnuchin said if Congress appropriates the money, but he doesn't have the ability to borrow more money and pay for it, "we're not going to be able to get that money to the state".

On Sunday, he said a higher debt limit should be linked to Hurricane Harvey relief funding.

About two weeks ago, Trump chided Senate leader Mitch McConnell and House speaker Paul Ryan for not linking it to a veterans' health care reform bill.

"And make sure that we get the funding to do that", he said.

Mr. Abbott said the devastation from Harvey will exceed that of Hurricane Sandy and the well-documented Katrina disaster in 2005 but that the federal government is just one part of the relief effort, highlighting a fund called RebuildTX.org and life-saving efforts by everyday Texans on the ground.

The bill, which was introduced Sunday night by Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), reflects the White House's requested total for assistance for Texas communities - including $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund. "We need Congress to step up and pass this and help Texas rebuild", he said.



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