Hurricane aid measure grows to $15B as Irma bears down

The Harvey and Irma aid – tied to a temporary debt ceiling extension deal between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats – passed the Senate by a vote of 80-17.

Before approving the legislation, the Senate rejected a proposal by Mr. Sasse to pass only the hurricane relief measure that had sailed through the House, without the debt limit or stopgap spending measure as part of it. Lawmakers also rejected a proposal by Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, to pay for hurricane relief using funds meant to be spent on foreign aid.

In addition to attaching the debt ceiling to the Harvey aid, a report from Axios’ Jonathan Swan said GOP leadership is also considering attaching a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government to the package.

The plan, however, drew pushback form some more conservative Republican members who believe that the debt ceiling should be offset with spending cuts to manage the growth of debt.

Trump had requested $7.9 billion, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell upping it to $15.3 billion before Thursday’s vote. It would also temporarily extend the National Flood Insurance Program, which is to expire on September 30. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who requested the additional funding be adding to the measure.

The House of Representatives approved a $7.8 billion disaster relief measure on Wednesday to help rebuild Texas and Louisiana from the destruction of Hurricane Harvey. GOP leaders such as Speaker Paul Ryan hope it will allow lawmakers to quickly take on the more challenging job of increasing the government’s $19.9 trillion borrowing cap.

Asked in the interview with The New York Times about Trump siding with the Democrats, Ryan said, “Yeah I sort of noticed that”.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., attempted to send the package back to a Senate committee on Thursday with instructions to offset the disaster spending, while Sen.

“I don’t know, but you’re going to have trouble getting people to agree to having the debt limit just automatically raised”, McCain told reporters on Thursday.

“Why don’t we pay for this?” Ben Sasse, R-Neb., made a move to remove the debt limit language. And he supported former President Barack Obama’s successful efforts in recent years to block Republicans from using debt limit increases as blackmail to win other GOP priorities.

“We’re dealing with all these things at this point in time anyway”, said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley of NY.

In the meeting with Republican and Democratic leaders on Wednesday, Trump also suggested doing away with the debt ceiling entirely.

“I think it’s a bad idea”, said House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who conceded that conservatives were getting outmaneuvered.

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