Why approving Harvey aid will be tricky for Congress

gettyimages 451874300 Why approving Harvey aid will be tricky for Congress

A strong storm front passes over the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, July 8, 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

By Matt Saintsing

As Harvey pours down the Texas Gulf Coast and eyes southwest Louisiana, federal lawmakers have pledged to help those impacted by the historic storm.

But time is running out. When Congress returns to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 5 they will have less than a month to meet deadlines impacting whether the federal government will stay in business.

If Congress does not pass legislation to keep the government funded by Sept. 30, there will be a government shutdown.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has said that in the event of a government shutdown, they will continue to provide support to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

hands Why approving Harvey aid will be tricky for Congress

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Texas Governor Greg Abbot August 29, 2017 (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

According to a FEMA report issued in early August, “absent a new catastrophic disaster the available funding in the disaster relief fund is sufficient.”

The report estimates the fund will have between $1.3 billion and $1.5 billion.

Superstorm Sandy cost FEMA about $1.9 billion in 2012.

The National Flood Insurance Program, administered by FEMA, is also set to expire Sept. 30. If it expires, scores of homeowners may be without coverage. New claims coming out of the aftermath from Harvey will require Congress to raise the debt ceiling, as it did in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.

“We will help those affected by this terrible disaster,” AshLee Strong, press secretary for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI.).

“The first step in that process is a formal request for resources from the administration.”

Speaking to Texans on Monday, President Donald Trump said “I think you’re going to see very rapid action from Congress—certainly from the president. You’re going to get your funding.”

However, with the fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1, either a continuing resolution or individual appropriations, are required to avoid a shutdown and a lapse in disaster relief funds.

But President Donald Trump has vowed to veto a continuing resolution and shut down the government if money for a border wall between the US and Mexico isn’t included.

At a rally in Phoenix earlier this month, Trump said, “If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.” On Monday, however, Trump said that a potential shutdown won’t impact hurricane assistance.

“I think it has nothing to do with it,” he said. “I think this is separate.”

Connect: @MattBSaintsing | Matt@ConnectingVets.com

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