House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Monday that the House will vote on an emergency funding package for Hurricane Harvey relief Wednesday morning.
The short-term funding bill, which appropriates funds for disaster response, has proven politically contentious in the days following the Category 4 Hurricane. The White House requested that Congress appropriate $7.85 billion Friday to help the 436,000 people that have been forced to rely on the Federal Emergency Management Agency for aid in the days following the record flooding.
Conservatives have spoken out against using the disaster relief funding bill to advance other legislative priorities, like raising the debt ceiling. Despite the consternation of the conservative wing of the party, GOP leadership reportedly plans to pass the Harvey relief bill through the House, then add a debt ceiling increase in the less conservative Senate before sending the bill back to the House for approval.
The leadership’s plan isolates the conservative House Freedom Caucus leader, who insists on not raising the debt ceiling in the absence of major spending cuts. By attaching the relief bill to the debt ceiling issue leadership places the Freedom Caucus members in the politically fraught position of being forced to vote against disaster relief in order to uphold their fiscal principles.
The White House is not pressing for the relief bill to include a debt ceiling increase, but it is also not opposed to such a move, a senior administration official told CNN. The timing of Hurricane Harvey’s arrival complicates the debt ceiling issue as the administration must raise limit the before Sept. 30 in order to fund the government.
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