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Harvey Relief Funding Bill Coming Next Week?
Word out of Capitol Hill is that House Republicans could be prepared to vote on a short-term spending resolution that would free up relief money to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
The Trump administration has yet to make an official request of Congress for the funding, but fears are rising that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is going to need a major influx of disaster response funding in the interim period between now and late September, when Congress is expected to vote on a continuing resolution to fund the entire government.
Lawmakers did approve a $1 million transfer from the government’s general fund to FEMA’s coffers on Thursday, but it will take much more than that to keep the relief operation funding for the next month while Congress finalizes its spending bill.
Speaking Thursday on the ground in Texas, Vice President Mike Pence explained the situation. “We expect Congress to move quickly on the initial legislation and we’ll be working very diligently in the opening weeks of Congress to accomplish that,” he said.
Sources within the Trump administration say that there hasn’t been a big push for extra Harvey aid to be added to the September spending but, but there also hasn’t been any pushback. All told, the White House has been seemingly ambivalent towards the whole situation.
Administration officials roughly estimate that Congress will have to approve upwards of $5.5 billion to keep the operation going for the time being. Congress is now reportedly weighing all of its options on how to spread out funding via a short-term bill versus a longer term package, with the first action perhaps set to take place next week.
In the meantime, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is set to visit Texas over the long weekend to survey the damage to both the Corpus Christi and Houston areas.