Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Treasury Secretary, increased the pressure on Congress to raise the debt ceiling by arguing that funding for Texas might be delayed if the Washington lawmakers do not act quickly.
“Without raising the debt limit, I am not comfortable that we will get money to Texas this month to rebuild,” Mnuchin said on Fox News Sunday. The hurricane ravaged state is reeling and will need billions of dollars to rebuild and provide relief to those displaced.
President Donald Trump has already requested nearly $8 billion for just the first wave of areas hit by Hurricane Harvey. The U.S. is on pace to hit the mandated debt limit by the end of the month if Congress does not make a move to increase it.
Senator Roy Blunt, a junior member of the Senate’s Republican leadership, has insinuated that it is possible that Congress can tie legislation on raising the U.S. debt ceiling to legislation that will provide funds for aid in the recovery effort from Harvey. This will be very unpopular among some conservative Republicans.
“That’s one way to do it,” Blunt said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Congressional leaders would have to work to see whether the votes are there, he said.
Congress will finally return to D.C. this week after a month long recess for the summer. One of the first measures on the docket is considering the $7.85 billion President Trump has requested for Harvey aid.
The Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, on Sunday estimated damage from Hurricane Harvey at $150 billion to $180 billion. It is estimated to be even more costly than both Katrina or Sandy. There will be great debate over how to fund the disaster relief.
The government has a limit on how much money it can borrow to cover the budget deficit. This occurs when Washington spends more than it collects in taxes. Congress is the only body which has the authority to raise that limit. Some conservatives want to tie spending reforms to a debt ceiling hike. But Democrats have argued that there should be bipartisan conversations on how to handle the debt ceiling and government spending.
“Providing aid in the wake of Harvey and raising the debt ceiling are both important issues, and Democrats want to work to do both. Given the interplay between all the issues Congress must tackle in September, Democrats and Republicans must discuss all the issues together and come up with a bipartisan consensus,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement.
Senator Blunt has said that Hurricane Harvey has created “another reason as to why you’d want to keep the government open” by passing legislation to fund the government this month.
Do you think that Congress will in fact tie raising the debt ceiling to provide Texas relief from Hurricane Harvey?