The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved roughly $8 billion in initial emergency aid for relief and rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey, which tore into Texas on Aug. 25. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved roughly $8 billion in initial emergency aid for relief and rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey, which tore into Texas on Aug. 25. The House-passed measure, which provides $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $450 million for the Small Business Administration, will now go to the Senate. Barring unexpected setbacks, the aid measure is expected to be sent to the White House by the end of the week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is considering linking the Harvey aid to a measure to raise the debt ceiling, or the federal government's borrowing limit, that would run through the 2018 midterm elections, aides said. Conservative Republicans oppose tying Harvey aid to a debt ceiling measure, but Democratic leaders have said they would support linking the aid to a shorter-term debt ceiling increase. "Moving the bill today is important, we want the Senate to act sooner, rather than later," said Republican Representative Kevin Brady of Texas as he left a party meeting on Wednesday morning. "Our leadership is looking at different options and discussing them with the Senate so we just had a discussion about what some of those options are," Brady added. 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. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Wednesday that Democrats would vote for a Harvey aid package and a short-term debt limit measure of three months given "Republican difficulty in finding votes for their plan." Representative Mark Walker, who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee, told reporters on Wednesday he did not think "there is a single Republican who would have a problem doing some kind of relief package" but cautioned against tying it to a debt ceiling bill. "The truth is that the bulk of the Republican conference do not want to attach Harvey relief to a debt ceiling," Walker told reporters.