Republicans and Democrats in the House on Wednesday approved $7.85 billion in emergency aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey by an overwhelming margin of 419-3.
House votes 419-3 to send $7.85 billion Hurricane Harvey emergency aid bill to the Senate.
Reps. Amash, Biggs and Massie voted no.
— Jennifer Shutt (@JenniferShutt) September 6, 2017
The vast majority of the money – $7.4 billion – will go to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA funds have been running out much more quickly than in the past thanks to advancements in technology: homeowners in need can now register for help online, giving federal officials a much better idea of how much is needed to cover basic necessities like shelter, food, and water.
Another $450 million will go the Small Business Administration, which grants loans to help small businesses recover after disasters.
After the vote, Texas Republican Rep. John Culberson said, “Help is on the way. Today in Congress there are no Republicans and no Democrats.”
Wednesday’s bill is just the first installment of emergency aid for Harvey. Texas officials have said they may need more than $180 billion in federal aid – more than the total cost of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy combined.
However, aid will not come without a price. Earlier this week, Senate Democrats vowed to tie the Harvey aid bill to a three-month debt ceiling hike – and on Wednesday, President Donald Trump agreed.
Just in: Pelosi and Schumer reached agreement w/ Trump to pass Harvey aid and raise debt limit through Dec. 15. pic.twitter.com/l6x5Y6o6XP
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) September 6, 2017
Trump’s move will likely not sit well with members of the GOP. Just prior to the deal Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan called Democrat efforts to tie the bill to a debt hike “disgraceful.”
Notably, Trump’s decision to side with the Democrats comes less than a week after he drew their ire by announcing plans to cancel DACA. Was there really no other solution than to raise the debt?
Politicizing a disaster the magnitude of Harvey should never be the goal. Unfortunately, Congress has forced everyone to choose sides.
What do you think of the Harvey aid bill? What do you think of Trump’s deal with the Dems? Share your comments below.