Mnuchin: Congress must connect Harvey aid to raising debt limitation

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J. Scott Applewhite/ AP In this Jan. 19, 2017, file image, Treasury Secretary-designate Steven Mnuchin affirms on Capitol Hill in Washington at his verification hearing before the Senate Finance Committee.

Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017|4 p.m.

WASHINGTON– Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday gotten in touch with Congress to integrate a $7.9 billion disaster relief package for Harvey with a boost in the country’s loaning limit, stating it was time to “put politics aside” so storm victims in Texas can get the help they require.

“The president and I believe that it needs to be tied to the Harvey funding. Our first top priority is to make sure that the state gets cash,” he said. “It is vital, and to do that, we need to ensure we raise the debt limitation.”

President Donald Trump visited storm-ravaged areas in Texas on Saturday, expressing wish for fast congressional action on relief aid. But some House conservatives have stated directly combining it with an increase in the debt limit would be a “awful idea” that sends out the incorrect message on overall government costs.

Trump plans to meet congressional leaders from both parties today as lawmakers go back to Washington after their summer recess.

The federal government’s cash reserves are running low since the debt limit has really currently been reached, and the Treasury Department is utilizing different accounting procedures to cover expenditures. Mnuchin originally had stated that Congress would have to raise the $19.9 trillion borrowing limitation by Sept. 29 to prevent a devastating default on the financial obligation, enabling the federal government to continue obtaining money to pay costs like Social Security and interest. However on Sunday, he stated that deadline had moved up due to unforeseen new spending on Harvey.

“Without raising the debt limitation, I’m not comfy that we would get the money that we require this month to Texas to reconstruct,” Mnuchin said.

Asked about Trump’s past risks to force a government shutdown if Congress does not likewise include his $1.6 billion ask for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, Mnuchin said Harvey help was Trump’s “first goal right now.”

The Associated Press reported recently that Republican leaders were making strategies to combine Harvey help with a boost in the debt limitation. Other senior GOP aides informed the AP that no decision had been made, and Democrats, whose votes would be required in the Senate, are cool to the method.

“Providing aid in the wake of Harvey and raising the debt ceiling are both crucial concerns, and Democrats want to work to do both,” said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California in a joint statement Sunday. “Provided the interplay between all the problems Congress must tackle in September, Democrats and Republicans must talk about all the concerns together and come up with a bipartisan consensus.”

In an interview with a Milwaukee TV station that aired Sunday, Home Speaker Paul Ryan did not resolve whether the two concerns would be tied together, just expressing confidence that Congress will “step up” to fund disaster healing efforts in Texas. “This is something that we’ve never seen prior to, so it’s going to require a pretty extraordinary action,” Ryan, R-Wis., stated on “UPFRONT with Mike Gousha,” which is produced in partnership with Wispolitics.com.

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Senate Republican politician management, said he would not be opposed to integrating the 2 steps and said the urgency of Harvey catastrophe relief supplies “another reason as to why you wish to keep the federal government open.”

“The president’s focus on this issue I believe puts another reason on the table to obtain things performed in September,” Blunt said.

Trump’s help request would include $7.4 billion to decreasing Federal Emergency situation Management Company disaster aid coffers and $450 million to fund disaster loans for small companies. An extra $5 billion to $8 billion for Harvey might be tucked into a catch-all costs expense Congress should pass in the coming weeks to money the federal government past Sept. 30.

On Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott explained the federal aid package as a crucial preliminary “deposit” on Harvey relief that he expects will concern $150 billion to $180 billion. “We need Congress to step up and pass this and assist Texas restore,” he said.

More than 436,000 households have actually registered for FEMA help, inning accordance with the White Home.

Harvey came ashore Aug. 25 as a Category 4 hurricane, then went back out to sea and lingered for days off the coast as a hurricane. The storm brought five straight days of rain amounting to near to 52 inches (1.3 meters) in one place, the heaviest tropical rainstorm ever tape-recorded in the continental U.S.

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