Trump administration wants to tie Harvey relief money to debt ceiling

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Even that amount could be delayed unless Congress quickly increases the government's debt limit, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday.

Congress had largely been expected since the deadly storm hit southeast Texas on August 25 to pass a spending bill free of amendments, add-ons or other legislation to avoid the kind of political wrangling that for months delayed emergency funding for 2012's Superstorm Sandy. In either case, traders are wary of the political gamesmanship that's become all too familiar around the debt ceiling. "Without raising the debt limit, I'm not comfortable that we will get the money that we need this month to Texas to rebuild". There's talk that the House is going to take up, that's nearly a billion dollars in disaster relief this next week. In fact, the nation's debt limit has already technically been reached but the Treasury Department is using numerous accounting measures to pay the bills.

Some House conservatives have said directly pairing Harvey aid with an increase in the debt limit would be a "terrible idea" that sends the wrong message on overall government spending. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, however, Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday that the deadline could move up a few days. Congress must act by September 29 in order to raise the debt ceiling, a more contentious vote than the one for Harvey aid.

"To use that [hurricane aid] as a vehicle to get people to vote for a debt ceiling is not appropriate", the group's chair, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said last week to The Washington Post.

Trump in recent weeks suggested that he'd "close down" the government if the resolution doesn't include money for his campaign-promised U.S. -Mexico border wall.


"No I can't, quite the contrary", Mnuchin said. It is critical. And to do that, we need to make sure we raise the debt limit.

He added that Trump and his first objective right now is for the people of Texas.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a joint statement that Democrats will work with Republicans for a deal on the debt ceiling and Harvey money.

The Trump administration signaled Sunday it wants to attach funding for the Hurricane Harvey recovery to a bill to lift the debt ceiling, putting it at odds with House conservatives who specifically warned GOP leaders not to do that.

Karen Waltmon, 58, who was returning to her home in one of the neighborhoods, said she wondered if parts of the city would have to be razed.

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