Texas GOP Rep: I Can’t Vote For Harvey Relief With Debt Ceiling Attached

Juliegrace Brufke | Capitol Hill Reporter

GOP Rep. Joe Barton of Texas said he won’t vote for the Hurricane Harvey relief package after the Senate attached a three-month debt ceiling increase to the House-passed bill, arguing Republicans shouldn’t raise the country’s borrowing limit without making an effort to offset spending.

Barton and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas criticized the Senate’s decision not to move forward with a clean disaster relief bill during the Republican Study Committee’s (RSC) Wednesday meeting, RSC Chairman Mark Walker told reporters Thursday. Both the RSC and the House Freedom Caucus, which Barton is also a member of, have been highly critical of linking the two issues, having long called for spending cuts to be attached debt ceiling legislation, alleging the must-pass aid is being politicized as the stand-alone bill easily passed the lower chamber Wednesday.

Barton said he feels conflicted due to the devastation caused by the hurricane in his state, but “can’t ignore the financial reality and not deal with the structural problems of our deficit.”

“I love President Trump and I’m with him probably 90 or 95 percent of the time, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to raise the debt ceiling with a $19 trillion public debt and not have any effort to change the way we spend money here in Washington,” he said, adding he’s had numerous people ask him to reconsider his vote.

Walker said while the RSC doesn’t whip its members’ votes, he estimates roughly 100 people, about two-thirds of the group, plan to vote against the measure Friday.

While the bill lacks the support of a large portion of the Republican conference, Walker noted it is still likely to pass with the support of Democrats who struck a deal with the president on the short-term debt ceiling hike.

The South Carolina Republican said he doesn’t think GOP leadership has done enough to push for conservative policies they advocated for in past administrations.

I think that we as a conference as well as well as our leadership could do more in pushing back sometimes to stay consistent with what we promised the American people in arriving here in Congress to begin with,” he told reporters.

The House is expected to vote on the Senate-passed legislation Friday.

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