USA lawmakers approve major Hurricane Harvey aid package

The Capitol is seen during a heavy rain in Washington in July

The measure now heads to the Senate, where GOP leaders are expected to attach the funding to a must-pass measure to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a US government default, before sending it back to the House for a final passage vote.

The US Congress has passed a 7.9 billion dollar (£6bn) aid package to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. Conservatives in the House and Senate, including Texas U.S. Sen.

Back in August, Mnuchin said that he was 100 percent confident the debt limit would be raised.

John Cornyn, the Republican Majority Whip, said he supports the plan as a way to immediately replenish needed funds for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

So we have got to make sure that we have the authority, the legal authority to go out and be able to put money back into FEMA, so we can respond to these hurricanes. "We have all this devastation in Texas; we've got another unprecedented hurricane about to hit Florida, and they want to play politics with the debt ceiling?"

Per a source close to GOP Senate leadership: "Leadership is testing the waters in the Senate for adding the CR..."

While some GOP leaders want a longer-term increase, any votes to increase federal borrowing are always hard for members of Congress, particularly fiscal conservatives principally opposed to increasing debt and spending.

"I think that's a ridiculous idea".

While conservatives in the Senate are unlikely to be pleased with the strategy, the larger problem could be in the House.

In a statement Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said they would ask their members to vote for the combined package. "That will strand the aid that we need", he said.

Beyond the dissent among the conservative House members, however, the plan lacks broad support or opposition in part because lawmakers returned from their annual summer recess Tuesday and have yet to have a chance to meet to discuss it. Senate Republicans want to link Harvey aid to debt limit increase into 2019 after the midterm elections.

They'll agree only to raise the debt ceiling for three months, which would set up an end of year fight, Politico reported.

The lower chamber passed the bill by a 419-3 vote. Even as he was declaring success in avoiding an economic crisis at least in the short term, it remained unclear whether congressional Republicans would go along with a plan that had been cooked up by Democratic leaders. "I continue to be anxious about the debt, but I don't think this is the time to have that debate".

Linking the two would help Congress finish two items off its checklist for this month, but they still have to fund the government before the end of the month, reauthorize several expiring programs and likely pass additional rounds for Harvey recovery.

While Democrats were in agreement about the need for the funding, Rep. Joseph Crowley and Rep. Eliot Engel, both of NY, pointed out that 20 Texas Republicans voted against a relief bill when Superstorm Sandy caused havoc in Northeast states in 2012.

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