House Approves $8 Billion in Initial Hurricane Harvey Relief

September 6, 2017 Updated: September 6, 2017

WASHINGTON—The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved roughly $8 billion in initial emergency aid for relief and rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey, which tore into Texas on Aug. 25.

The House-passed measure, which provides $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $450 million for the Small Business Administration, will now go to the Senate. Barring unexpected setbacks, the aid measure is expected to be sent to the White House by the end of the week.

After a White House meeting between President Donald Trump and congressional leaders from both parties, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced that they had reached a deal to tie the Harvey aid to short-term measures to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling through Dec. 15.

“Both sides have every intention of avoiding default in December and look forward to working together on the many issues before us,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement.

President Donald Trump meets with congressional leaders: House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Sept. 6, 2017. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
President Donald Trump meets with congressional leaders: House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Sept. 6, 2017. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had favored linking the Harvey aid to a measure to raise the debt ceiling, or the federal government’s borrowing limit, through the 2018 midterm elections, aides said. But many conservative Republicans oppose tying Harvey aid to a debt ceiling measure without related reforms.

Republicans at the White House meeting had pressed to raise the debt ceiling for a longer period of time but Trump sided with Democrats, who said earlier on Wednesday they would back a three-month extension, an individual briefed on the meeting said.

If passed, the deal would avoid a shutdown of the U.S. government by using a three-month, short-term patch to fund the government at current levels through Dec. 15 while Congress works out a longer-term spending package for fiscal year 2018.

By Amanda Becker

Damaged furniture, carpets and flooring are piled at the curbside by residents as many began repairs in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, in Houston, Texas, U.S., September 2, 2017.  REUTERS/Gary McWilliams
Damaged furniture, carpets and flooring are piled at the curbside by residents as many began repairs in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, in Houston, Texas, U.S., September 2, 2017. (REUTERS/Gary McWilliams)

Interstate highway 45 is submerged during widespread flooding in Houston. REUTERS/Richard Carson
Interstate highway 45 is submerged during widespread flooding in Houston. (REUTERS/Richard Carson)

An aerial photo shows damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas, U.S., August 31, 2017.  REUTERS/DroneBase
An aerial photo shows damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas, U.S., August 31, 2017. (REUTERS/DroneBase)