Texas governor says $8B Harvey relief is only a 'down-payment'

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he has begun drafting a "sanctions package" to send to President Donald Trump for "his strong consideration" that would punish any country that conducts business with North Korea amid escalating global tensions during an interview Sunday on Fox News' "Fox News Sunday". Should Congress approve an aid package but not raise the debt ceiling, Mnuchin said the Treasury won't be able to pay for the relief Texas needs. The White House is said to want to extend the debt limit to move back the specter of a USA default until after Congress can address funding for the full fiscal year and the Trump administration's tax-overhaul efforts.

Senator Roy Blunt, a junior member of the Senate's Republican leadership, said it was possible lawmakers could tie legislation raising the US debt ceiling - an unpopular step among some Republican conservatives - to legislation providing financial aid for recovery from Harvey.

"The President and I believe that it should be tied to the Harvey funding".

Mnuchin's new deal contrasts his statements from just days earlier, in which he said it was not necessary to tie legislation for Harvey and debt.

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Linking the two issues could make it politically hard for lawmakers to oppose the debt-limit bill.

About two weeks ago, Trump chided Senate leader Mitch McConnell and House speaker Paul Ryan for not linking it to a veterans' health care reform bill. "So we need to put politics aside".

"To use that [hurricane aid] as a vehicle to get people to vote for a debt ceiling is not appropriate", the group's chair, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said last week to The Washington Post.

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, said he wouldn't be opposed to combining the two measures and said the urgency of Harvey disaster relief provides "another reason as to why you want to keep the government open".

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The White House disaster aid request includes $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $450 million for the Small Business Administration.

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 said on CNN's "State of the Union" that $120 billion was needed to respond to Hurricane Katrina and he expects damage from Harvey will be greater.

Flood waters in Houston during Tropical Storm Harvey.

. "We need Congress to step up and pass this and help Texas rebuild", he said.

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"That's one way to do it", Blunt said on NBC's "Meet the Press".


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