President Trump sends lawmakers request for $7.9 billion for initial Harvey recovery efforts

Floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey surround homes and businesses in Port Arthur, Texas, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Latest on President Donald Trump’s promise of help after Hurricane Harvey (all times local):

8:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump has sent lawmakers a $7.9 billion request for an initial down payment for Harvey relief and recovery efforts.

The request, expected to be swiftly approved by Congress, would add $7.4 billion to rapidly dwindling Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster aid coffers and $450 million to finance disaster loans for small businesses.

The initial Harvey package is just the first installment for immediate disaster response like housing assistance, cleanup and FEMA-financed home repairs. The White House says more than 436,000 households have registered for FEMA aid.

The request also reiterates the need for Congress to increase the government’s $19.9 trillion borrowing limit by the end of this month. Republicans are signaling that they may link the unpopular debt limit increase to Harvey relief.

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8:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s request for an initial down payment for Harvey relief and recovery efforts is growing.

A senior GOP source in Washington says Trump’s request to refill rapidly shrinking Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster coffers is going up by about $2 billion, bringing the total for the looming disaster aid package about $8 billion.

The request is expected to be officially released Friday night. Earlier, the White House had said the request would total $5.5 billion for FEMA and $450 million for the Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Program.

But FEMA is spending money at a faster rate, causing the White House to redraft the aid package.

The GOP source spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is not yet public.

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1:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump is thanking disaster relief organizations helping victims of Harvey.

The president was joined in the Oval Office by leaders of the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.

Trump says the people of Texas and Louisiana have taught Americans “a powerful lesson” with their resilience and strength. He says there’s been an “outbreak of compassion” that has inspired the nation.

Trump will be going to Texas and Louisiana on Saturday to survey the damage from the storm. He traveled to Texas earlier in the week.

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1:10 p.m.

Congressional Republicans plan to use a disaster relief package for Harvey as the vehicle to pass a contentious increase in the federal debt limit.

That’s according to a senior House Republican who spoke on condition of anonymity because deliberations were private.

House Republicans expect to approve an initial $5.9 billion package in Harvey aid in the next week or two. They’ll send it to the Senate, where the debt limit increase would be attached and sent back to the House for final approval.

The plan ignores objections from House conservatives who’ve warned GOP leaders not to use Harvey aid as the vehicle to increase the United States’ $19.9 trillion debt limit. The limit must be increased by late September to permit the government to continue borrowing money to pay its bills.

 

Read more stories about Harvey here


You can donate to the Red Cross by going to its website, calling 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or texting 90999 to donate $10. The money goes toward recovery efforts.

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