The Trump administration is asking Congress for nearly $8 billion in Hurricane Harvey aid as the search-and-rescue phase is slowly giving way to recovery more than a week after the storm slammed into southeastern Texas.
President Trump makes his second trip to the region Saturday, with a visit to a Houston relief center, where he is set to speak with storm victims. Later Saturday, he is scheduled to meet with emergency responders in Lake Charles, La., including the volunteer “Cajun Navy.”
Request for federal funds
The trip comes one day after the White House asked Congress to appropriate “$7.85 billion in Federal resources for response and initial recovery efforts related to Hurricane Harvey.”
The letter, sent by White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, said Harvey has already damaged more than 100,000 homes, left 43,500 people in shelters and resulted in nearly a half-million households registering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help with housing and home repairs.
The bulk of the funding would go toward FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund. About $450 million is slated for the Small Business Administration’s disaster loan program to help small businesses and homeowners get back on their feet.
As The Washington Post reports:
“The request is $2 billion more than White House and congressional leaders were expecting to seek as of Thursday. Government officials were continually reevaluating the damage and how much money was needed for the short-term response.”
But the request is essentially just a down payment on a tab that will very likely be billions more.
The letter also calls on Congress to raise the debt ceiling quickly, warning that “the debt ceiling could, unless modified, affect critical response and recovery efforts related to Hurricane Harvey.”
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said that if the debt ceiling is not raised, the government only has until the end of the month before running out of cash.
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SOURCE: NPR, Amy Held