Sen. Blunt Weighs in on Harvey Relief Fund

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Congress is poised to vote on emergency funding to aid in the Hurricane Harvey relief. Legislators agree billions will be needed for the Texas Gulf Coast but may disagree on how it should be done.

The House Appropriations Committee released a $7.85 billion bill, which is how much President Donald Trump had requested for the relief.

Senator Roy Blunt, during a visit to Springfield last week, shared his thoughts on how he'd like to see the relief funds be delivered.

He said he'd prefer multiple installments similar to how Congress handled relief for Joplin after a devastating tornado in 2011.

"Much better to do this when you know what the costs are than anticipating the cost," he said. "I think we funded that in four different bills at four different times and we funded that knowing what the costs were."

Blunt says that would be a more fiscally responsible option than a large lump sum as COngress did with relief for Hurricane Sandy aftermath.

"I voted against the sandy funding for that same reason," he said.

That bill was $50 billion measure.

"It hasn't all been spent yet," Blunt said.

Treasure Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Congress should attach the $7.85 billion relief package to a debt limit.

When asked by Chuck Todd on Face the Nation this week, if he was comfortable with raising the debt ceiling, here's what Senator Blunt had to say.

"I never have great enthusiasm for raising the debt ceiling. But the debt ceiling, remember, is to pay for things that the government has already committed to. This is not a future spending thing. This is the bills we've already encumbered. And whether you put that with leaving the doors open for the government, or the debt ceiling vote is something that will be decided in the next few days, I expect," he said.

Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, both Texas GOP senators, also voted against that Sandy relief bill.

Congress is expected to vote on this initial Harvey relief package on Wednesday.

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, whose district covers Houston, called for $150 billion in relief funds, which is about what the federal government shelled out for both Katrina and Sandy combined.


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