Senate passes $15.3B aid package for Harvey
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump, Congress, hurricane relief and debt limit (all times local):
The Senate has passed a $15.3 billion aid package for victims of Harvey — nearly doubling President Donald Trump’s emergency request and adding a deal between Trump and Democrats to temporarily extend the government’s ability to borrow money to cover its bills.
The 80-17 vote returns the legislation to the House for a vote Friday that would send it to the White House.
The measure would also fund government agencies through Dec. 8, taking the threat of an Oct. 1 government shutdown off the table.
The aid money comes as Harvey recovery efforts are draining federal disaster aid coffers — and as Hurricane Irma takes aim at Florida.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved late Wednesday to add $7.4 billion in money for rebuilding to Trump’s $7.9 billion Harvey request.
President Donald Trump says Americans want more bipartisanship. He says his meeting with the two Democratic and two Republican legislative leaders on Wednesday was “very, very friendly.”
Trump spoke to reporters before a lunch with Kuwait’s Amir al-Sabah. He said he expects Congress to discuss eliminating the debt ceiling, saying it “complicates things.”
Once again, Trump is not referring to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by name, while referencing Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer several times.
Vice President Mike Pence, also in the room, says he agrees with Schumer that Trump striking a deal on the debt ceiling extension — over the objection of Republicans — was “a great moment.”
Trump says the debt deal signals more bipartisanship to come.
Top Democrats and President Donald Trump are talking about scrapping the government’s debt limit.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says Trump suggested the idea in Wednesday’s meeting at the White House.
The California Democrat tells reporters, “Now that’s something we can talk about.”
Pelosi says she and Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer of New York would discuss the idea with their party colleagues.
House Speaker Paul Ryan opposes the idea. He says it would encroach on Congress’ power of the purse and legislating authority.
The White House says President Donald Trump spoke by phone Thursday morning to four congressional leaders, including House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi said earlier that she is the one who asked Trump to send his reassuring tweet about the so-called “Dreamers.” Pelosi says she asked Trump to make clear that “Dreamers” wouldn’t be subject to deportation during the six months Trump has given Congress to find a solution for them.
The White House says Trump also spoke to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the president is “committed to working across the aisle and doing what is needed to best serve the American people.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan says the deal the president cut with Democrats on spending, the debt and Harvey aid made sense, with one devastating storm and another looming.
In his first remarks since Trump cut the deal, Ryan said Thursday that president didn’t want to have “some partisan fight in the middle of the response.”
The Wisconsin lawmaker did not criticize the three-month spending and debt deal that would rush billions in disaster relief to the victims — though he says he believes a longer-term debt deal would have been better for credit markets.
President Donald Trump sided with Democratic leaders over Republicans who wanted a longer extension on raising America’s borrowing authority.
Asked about Trump’s deal with the Democrats, Ryan said, “Yeah, I sort of noticed that.”
Ryan spoke at a New York Times interview at the Newseum.
A House Republican says he has no problem with President Donald Trump making a deal with Democratic leaders of Congress to arrange a short-term extension of the debt limit.
Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole calls Trump’s move in an Oval Office meeting Wednesday “in some sense a declaration of independence by the president.”
“I was sort of thrilled,” Cole told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program Thursday. He says the arrangement Trump worked out with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is “good for the country. … We don’t need to run out of money in a week or 10 days in the middle of a natural disaster.”
Cole tells MSNBC: “There’s all kinds of implications of what he did yesterday, but count me as saying I believe there’s more of an upside than a downside.”
The Senate is nearly doubling the initial Harvey aid package.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s midnight move added $7.4 billion in community development block grant funds to a House-passed $7.9 billion measure providing an emergency replenishment for disaster aid coffers.
The additional Senate money is to jump-start rebuilding efforts. The block grant money is more flexible and can cover costs the Federal Emergency Management Agency can’t. A vote could come as early as Thursday.
The House passed the Harvey aid package on Wednesday by an overwhelming vote. President Donald Trump agreed to link it to an increase through Dec. 8 in the government’s so-called debt limit, as well as a stopgap government-wide funding bill.
President Donald Trump briskly overruled congressional Republicans and his own treasury secretary to cut a deal with Democrats to keep the government operating and raise America’s debt limit. The immediate goal was ensuring money for hurricane relief, but in the process the president brazenly rolled his own party’s leaders.
In deal-making mode, Trump sided Wednesday with the Democratic leaders — “Chuck and Nancy,” as he amiably referred later to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — as they pushed for the three-month deal. The deal had the effect of brushing aside the urgings of GOP leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for a much longer extension to the debt limit. Republicans want that longer allowance to avoid having to take another vote on the politically toxic issue before the 2018 congressional elections.
The White House session painted a vivid portrait of discord at the highest ranks of the Republican Party.