September 4 at 3:24 PM
Mounds of waterlogged household items crowd the front yards in many Houston neighborhoods as people start trying to recover from Hurricane Harvey. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
House lawmakers will vote Wednesday on a $7.85 billion package of emergency aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey.
The bill, which was introduced Sunday night by Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), reflects the White House’s requested total for assistance for Texas communities — including $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund.
The bill is to be considered as a stand-alone measure. It does not include a provision to raise the federal debt limit, something that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a “Fox News Sunday” interview would be necessary.
[Texas continues Harvey recovery efforts as Hurricane Irma looms in the Atlantic]
Conservative GOP lawmakers strongly oppose attaching the legislation to any federal debt measure; they are pressing for spending cuts in exchange for their support of raising the borrowing ceiling. Multiple congressional aides have acknowledged that the debt-limit provision could be added later in the process, most likely after the bill passes the House and goes to the Senate.
If any changes are made by senators, the House would have to vote on the package again for it to become law.
House Republican leaders said Monday that the chamber will meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday to consider disaster relief, with the first votes scheduled for 11 a.m. The aid bill is expected to be considered under a fast-track procedure for noncontroversial, bipartisan bills that requires a two-thirds majority to pass.
The votes are the beginning of a packed schedule as Congress enters its home stretch this year. The federal government will reach its borrowing limit at the end of the month, and failure to raise it could cause turmoil in the financial markets. In addition, Congress also must approve funding for the federal government beyond Sept. 30 — the end of the current fiscal year — to avert a partial government shutdown on Oct. 1.
Republicans also have promised to pass tax reform, another ambitious goal, in the coming months.
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