House Republicans could vote on a short-term funding bill to support disaster response efforts for Hurricane Harvey as soon as next week, congressional sources tell CNN.
Leaders on Capitol Hill are still awaiting a specific request from the Trump administration and no final decisions have been made about the size of the legislation, but there is concern that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will need an infusion of cash in its disaster response account due to Hurricane Harvey before broader legislation can be drafted later in September.
On Thursday night, lawmakers on the House Appropriations committee approved a request from President Donald Trump’s administration to transfer $1 billion from a general fund to the emergency disaster response fund to ensure FEMA could continue dispersing money to those across the region needing immediate aid.
Visiting with victims on Thursday in Texas, Vice President Mike Pence urged speedy action but didn’t specify a timeline, saying, “we expect Congress to move quickly on the initial legislation and we”ll be working very diligently in the opening weeks of Congress to accomplish that.”
A senior administration official said the White House isn’t pressing for Harvey aid to be tied to a broader package later in September to raise the debt ceiling, but they aren’t opposed to it. It will ultimately be up to leaders in Congress to figure out how to wrap these things together — or not, the official said. The same official said that the $5.5 billion figure being floated for the initial FEMA aid package Congress will take up first is roughly accurate, and there may be more types of aid layered on top of it.
On Wednesday, a group of Texas and Louisiana House members huddled to discuss next steps on a conference call with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, who called in from a hospital, where he is still healing from serious injuries sustained in an attack from a shooter who targeted a GOP baseball practice.
One GOP source familiar with the discussion told CNN that the lawmakers discussed an “immediate package as well as a longer-term bill” to address the range of needs of those dealing with massive flooding.
McCarthy is scheduled to travel to Texas on Sunday and Monday to assess storm damage in Corpus Christi and Houston and to meet with members of the Texas delegation.