Harvey Aid, Debt Limit Hike And Government Funding Sails Through Senate

Thursday, September 7th 2017, 2:52 pm
By: News 9

The Senate passed a comprehensive measure Thursday that includes more than $15 billion in emergency aid for the Hurricane Harvey relief effort and extends the debt ceiling and government funding for three more months.

Lawmakers approved the legislation 80-17. The bill now goes back to the House for a final vote before it heads to President Trump's desk.

The measure includes $15.25 billion in aid for Harvey, including $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund and $450 million for the Small Business Authority disaster loan program. The bill also would provide $7.4 billion in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development for areas most affected by 2017 disasters, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

To stave off a default and government shutdown for now, the measure includes an extension of government funding and the debt ceiling through Dec. 8. Lawmakers will need to revisit the issue before then.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump shocked Washington when during a Oval Office meeting with congressional leaders, he endorsed a plan from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, that extended both the debt ceiling and government funding for three months into December. GOP leaders, however, first pushed for an 18-month extension and then a six-month hike, according to a congressional aide briefed on the meeting.

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, who attended the meeting along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, had called the Democratic plan "ridiculous" only hours earlier. On Thursday, the House speaker said that the president sided with the Democrats because he wanted to avoid a partisan "food fight" amid the crises involving the hurricanes. 

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