The House passed a sweeping package today that authorizes billions of dollars for hurricane recovery efforts, raises the debt limit and funds the government through December, with some Republicans opposing the measure after panning top administration officials’ efforts to sell the legislation.
With a vote of 316-90, the measure, which Trump signed into law Friday afternoon, adds more than $15 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s coffers to aid the recovery efforts in areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The package includes more than $6 billion in additional FEMA funds as part of the bill funding the government through December, bringing the total disaster funds closer to $22 billion.
The bill passed despite opposition from conservatives who objected to the bipartisan deal forged by President Donald Trump and top Democrats. All 90 “no” votes were from Republicans, including four prominent party members from Texas.
“Disaster assistance should be considered on its own –- not to advance another agenda,” Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and one of the few Texans against the bill, said in a statement. “I voted on Wednesday for a clean emergency disaster funding bill for Hurricane Harvey that passed the House with overwhelming support. Those affected by disasters need help from Washington, they do not need more of the same political games.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy scheduled the vote before noon to give members time to return home ahead of Hurricane Irma.
Top Republicans had pushed for a longer-term extension of the debt ceiling. Rank-and-file conservatives called for spending cuts or policy changes tied to the debt limit hike.
In a last-minute appeal to House Republicans Friday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney urged Republicans to support the aid package in a Friday morning meeting.
“Vote for it for me,” Mnuchin, a lifelong Democrat, told Republicans in the meeting, sources in the room said.
Mulvaney, a former House member, was also booed in the meeting when he did not commit to cutting the federal deficit on the next debt limit vote in December, sources said.
The Senate cleared the package Thursday afternoon in a 80-to-17 vote; only Republicans opposed the bill.
The additional funds will also be available for recovery efforts in areas affected by Hurricane Irma.
The package sets up another potential fiscal showdown over government funding and the debt limit in December.