Mnuchin: Tie Harvey funding to debt ceiling

Mnuchin: Tie Harvey funding to debt ceiling

Mnuchin: Tie Harvey funding to debt ceiling

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Sunday that Congress should tie Hurricane Harvey aid to an increase in the federal debt limit.

"Prior to Harvey, I've said we've had enough funding to go through end of September and had urged Congress to focus on this before that period of time", Mnuchin noted. Trump will meet with congressional leaders of both parties this week to discuss the aid package, Mnuchin said.

President Donald Trump visited storm-ravaged Texas Saturday saying he hopes for a "quick process" getting Congress to approve nearly $8 billion in initial Harvey relief. "Without raising the debt limit, I'm not confident we will get the money we need this month to Texas to rebuild", Mnuchin told Fox. "The president and I believe that it should be tied to the Harvey funding".

The White House is said to want to extend the debt limit to move back the specter of a USA default until after Congress can address funding for the full fiscal year and the Trump administration's tax-overhaul efforts. It is critical. And to do that, we need to make sure we raise the debt limit. Among their pressing tasks: increase America's borrowing authority and prevent an unprecedented default.

Now that the debt ceiling needs to be raised again, President Trump has signaled that he doesn't want a messy fight over it.

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".

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In an interview with a Milwaukee TV station that aired Sunday, House Speaker Paul Ryan did not address whether the two issues would be tied together, only expressing confidence that Congress will "step up" to fund disaster recovery efforts in Texas.

Mnuchin's spending-debt ceiling pitch resulted in a quick and favorable response from Congress's top two Democratic leaders.

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The White House disaster aid request includes $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $450 million for the Small Business Administration. But rank-and-file congressional Republicans fear criticism from the right if they vote for a "clean" hike (one without accompanying spending cuts).

Texas Governor Greg Abbott estimated damage at $150 billion to $180 billion, calling it more costly than Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy, which devastated New Orleans in 2005 and NY in 2012. The storm brought five straight days of rain totalling close to 52 inches (1.3 metres) in one location, the heaviest tropical downpour ever recorded in the continental U.S.

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