House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said Monday that Congress would act quickly to disburse relief funds for Hurricane Irma, despite the “enormous financial strain” brought on by Hurricane Harvey.
“It’s an enormous financial strain,” McCaul told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “As you know we appropriated $15.5 billion for the disaster relief fund, just to keep it solvent … the good news is the money is there to help save lives. Texas has moved past that search and rescue phase, now it’s rebuilding. Florida is in the search and rescue phase as I speak.”
When asked if more emergency funding would be distributed to Florida, McCaul said that the original allotment was just a “down payment,” with more to follow.
“We will have another supplemental. That was just a down payment to keep the disaster relief fund afloat. And these community development block grants will help rebuild, and I think we’ll see those take place in Florida soon,” he said. “We’re going to have a larger supplemental, I think, in the next few weeks to pay for this. We have to provide assistance to these people who are hurting, and to help them rebuild.”
MSNBC’s Willie Geist asked McCaul how House Republicans from Texas could have voted against a relief package for their own state after Harvey, and McCaul said it was likely due to their concerns over the growing national debt.
“I think having to raise the debt ceiling was probably their big issue,” McCaul told Geist. “I don’t want to judge them. I can only judge myself and my conscience. When I had people dying and hurting in my home state it was my duty and moral obligation to help them. And I felt that vote was a vote of conscience to help people in my state, and also now in Florida.
“I think that’s what Americans do, and I think its unconscionable to vote against something like that,” he said.
McCaul expects congressional unity for the Irma relief package, and stressed that it’s not a Texas or Florida issue, but an “American issue.”
“I don’t think you’re going to see some Texas versus Florida thing. This is going to be an American issue. And I think if anything it will bring the Texas and Florida delegations together, fighting together for that funding,” he said.
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