nsucurrent.com February 22, 2018

Harvey victim funds may be delayed without debt limit increase -Mnuchin

04 September 2017, 11:30 | Colleen Roy

Treasury watchdog reviewing Mnuchin's solar eclipse trip

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"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 on Sunday. "I feel a lot of Houston is drying out, and I don't want them to forget about us", she said.

"The President and I believe that it should be tied to the Harvey funding". It is critical. And to do that, we need to make sure we raise the debt limit.

On Sunday, Mnuchin again called for lawmakers to "put politics aside" and get it done.

"Providing aid in the wake of Harvey and raising the debt ceiling are both important issues, and Democrats want to work to do both", said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California in a joint statement Sunday. But some House conservatives are opposed to directly pairing disaster aid with an increase in the debt limit, saying it sends the wrong message on overall government spending.

The government's cash reserves are running low because the debt limit has actually already been reached, and the Treasury Department is using various accounting measures to cover expenses. Republican lawmakers, who control both houses of Congress, have traditionally resisted raising the debt ceiling, but linking the issue to Harvey aid could force their hand with people suffering and large areas of the fourth-largest USA city under water. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, however, Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday that the deadline could move up a few days. U.S. President Donald Trump has requested almost $8 billion for initial relief for areas hit by Hurricane Harvey. Congressional leaders would have to look at whether the votes are there, he said.

Trump is asking for at least $7.9 billion in disaster relief.

Congress has an enormous to-do list in September, and raising the debt ceiling or debt limit - the cap on the total amount of debt the federal government can issue to pay for spending - is at the top of that list.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott estimated damage at $150 billion to $180 billion, calling it more costly than Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy, which devastated New Orleans in 2005 and NY in 2012.

Mnuchin argued that Texas will not be able to get the billions of dollars it needs unless Congress first agrees on a debt ceiling increase.

Blunt, on NBC, said 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.

Blunt said relief money should be given out multiple times on an as-needed basis rather than in a large lump sum as was done for Hurricane Sandy in 2002.

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