Mnuchin: Congress has to Raise Debt Ceiling while Approving Harvey Aid

07 September, 2017, 01:31 | Author: Barbara Daniel
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks during the news briefing at the White House in Washington Friday Aug. 25 2017

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday said Congress should act quickly to increase the debt limit, otherwise relief funding for hurricane-ravaged areas of Texas might be delayed.

"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.

President Trump, who mingled with storm victims during a second stop in Texas on Saturday, is requesting almost $8 billion as a down payment on federal assistance for flood-ravaged Houston and other parts of southeast Texas.

Mnuchin told Congress in July that it will have to raise the debt limit by the end of the fiscal year, September 29, otherwise the USA government wouldn't have enough money to pay the bills.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday estimated damage from Hurricane Harvey at $150 billion to $180 billion, calling it more costly than epic storms Katrina or Sandy and fueling the debate over how to pay for the disaster.

At the time, a senior administration official told CNN that the White House expected the disaster funding and the debt ceiling to be paired in the Senate.

In an interview with "Fox News Sunday" Steve Mnuchin called the North's test of a hydrogen bomb "completely unacceptable behavior", adding that he will draft a sanctions package to send to the president for his strong consideration.

"What happened in Texas is a tragedy and it needs an urgent Congressional response", the North Carolina Republican said in a statement.

However, the unanticipated arrival of Harvey on August 25 has thrown a wild card in the House and Senate's already-packed agenda.

Trump plans to meet with congressional leaders from both parties this week as lawmakers return to Washington after their summer recess.

"As we have stated for months, the debt ceiling should be paired with significant fiscal and structural reforms". Then, when the new fiscal year begins on October 1, Congress must also have passed a measure to fund most operations of the federal government and avoid a shutdown.

"Providing aid in the wake of Harvey and raising the debt ceiling are both important issues, and Democrats want to work to do both".

Before Harvey, Trump had threatened to veto such spending and trigger a shutdown if Congress refused to fund his proposed U.S. -Mexico border wall. He said the additional borrrowing is needed to ensure storm victims in Texas get the help they need.

At the same time, he said the drinking water is safe, the electric grid is mostly functional and airports and public transit systems are up and running.

Mr. Long said his agency has deployed management teams to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to prepare for the approaching system, which has strengthened to a category-three storm as it approaches the Caribbean. And I think as you know, that's our priority.

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