McConnell ponders combining Harvey, debt ceiling, government funding

The Latest: House plans Wednesday vote on Harvey aid

Senate Republicans hope to add an increase to the government's borrowing limit, but Democrats announced Wednesday that they only support a short-term increase. We've got another unprecedented hurricane about to hit Florida. Years ago, Cruz and Cornyn - along with 23 Texas House members - voted against Sandy aid relief, citing special projects also funded in the bill.

He said Tuesday that he told House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy "almost every Democrat, if not every Democrat, would support it and I expect it to pass with overwhelming bipartisan support".

The measure includes $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund. More relief packages will follow, as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has said his state could need as much as $125 billion to help its recovery, which was the amount allocated for Katrina in 2005. While Democrats aren't necessarily opposed in principle to the strategy, they are waiting for more details from Republicans before signaling whether they would back it. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip, said he was waiting to see the Senate act before backing anything.

Now some lawmakers are looking to add it to a bill to raise the debt ceiling. "And to play politics with the debt ceiling, like [Senate Democratic Leader Chuck] Schumer and [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi apparently are doing, I don't think, is a good idea".

Linking the two would help Congress finish two items off its checklist for this month, but they still have to fund the government before the end of the month, reauthorize several expiring programs and likely pass additional rounds for Harvey recovery.

The House's two big, fiscally conservative groups - the House Freedom Caucus and the Republican Study Committee - have already expressed reservations about a combo vote.

"I think it's a awful idea", Meadows said.




North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker, the leader of another group of fiscal conservatives, said in a written statement, "If we resort to just kicking the can down the road on the debt, it only shows that Republicans do not take the problem of our $20 trillion debt seriously". He also said federal tax cuts or reforms are high on the list or priorities.

Republican leaders, according to the source, pushed for an 18-month debt limit hike, then floated six months.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., predicted bipartisan support to lift the debt ceiling.

"I'm not surprised that the White House is trying to use the Harvey relief package to get a debt ceiling increase through", said Romina Boccia, deputy director for economic policy at the Heritage Foundation.

The Texas delegation is generally united now in approving federal aid for Harvey, but divided in how to package it.

A senior House member, who asked to not be identified, called the tactic a "charade" and asked, "Why not attach the debt ceiling in the first place?"

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