Congress sends aid bill, debt hike to Trump

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL NATIONAL - As­so­ci­ated Press By An­drew Tay­lor

WASHINGTON — Congress sent Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump a mas­sive pack­age of $ 15.3 bil­lion in dis­as­ter aid linked to an in­crease in the na­tion’s bor­row­ing author­ity that an­gered con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­cans who hissed and booed se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials dis­patched to Capi­tol Hill to de­fend it.

Hours l ater, Trump signed the mea­sure into law.

The House voted 316-90 f or t he mea­sure t hat would re­fill de­pleted emer­gency ac­counts as Florida braces for the im­pact of Hur­ri­cane Irma and Texas picks up the pieces af­ter the dev­as­ta­tion of the Har­vey storm. All 90 votes in op­po­si­tion were cast by Repub­li­cans, many of whom seethed af­ter Trump cut the dis­as­ter-and-debt deal with Demo­cratic lead­ers with no off­set­ting bud­get cuts.

“You can’t just keep bor­row­ing money. We’re go­ing to be $ 22 tril­lion in debt,” said Rep. Jeff Dun­can, R-S.C.

The aid mea­sure is just the first in­stall­ment in gov­ern­ment spend­ing that could ri­val or ex­ceed the $110 bil­lion fed­eral re­sponse af­ter Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in 2005, though fu­ture aid pack­ages may be more dif­fi­cult to pass. The leg­is­la­tion also funds the gov­ern­ment through Dec. 8.

In a closed-door meet­ing be­fore the vote, more than a dozen Repub­li­cans stood up and com­plained about Trump cut­ting a deal with Demo­cratic lead­ers Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi in­stead of GOP lead­ers try­ing to de­liver on the pres­i­dent’s agenda.

Bud­get chief Mick Mul­vaney, a for­mer tea party con­gress­man from South Carolina who took a hard line against debt in­creases dur­ing his House ten­ure, and Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin faced a rough time in plead­ing for votes.

Mnuchin elicited hisses when he told the meet­ing of House Repub­li­cans “vote for the debt ceil­ing for me,” said Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C. Repub­li­cans were in dis- belief af­ter Mnuchin ar­gued that the debt ceil­ing shouldn’t be a po­lit­i­cal is­sue in the fu­ture, said Rep. Mark San­ford, R-S.C.

Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., de­scribed a sur­real scene with Mnuchin, a for­mer Demo­cratic donor, and Mul­vaney, who al­most cer­tainly would have op­posed the very mea­sure he was sent to pitch, press­ing Repub­li­cans to rally around the leg­is­la­tion.

“It’s kind of like ‘Where am I? What’s go­ing on here?’” Costello said. “If it wasn’t so se­ri­ous it kind of would have been funny.”

Mul­vaney was booed when he stepped to the mi­cro­phone, though law­mak­ers said it was good-na­tured. He de­fended the deal and Trump.

“It was ab­so­lutely the right thing to do,” Mul­vaney told re­porters af­ter the meet­ing. “The pres­i­dent is a re­sults-driven per­son, and right now he wants to see re­sults on Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, Hur­ri­cane Irma and tax re­form. He saw an op­por­tu­nity to work with Democrats on this par­tic­u­lar is­sue at this par­tic­u­lar time.”

But Mul­vaney fur­ther up­set Repub­li­cans when he wouldn’t prom­ise spend- ing cuts as part of a fu­ture debt limit vote.

Trump on Wed­nes­day had cut a deal with Sen. Schumer and Rep. Pelosi to in­crease the debt limit for three months, rather than the long-term ap­proach pre­ferred by the GOP lead­ers that would have re­solved the is­sue through next year’s midterms.

Con­ser­va­tives dis­liked both op­tions. Vot­ing on the debt limit is po­lit­i­cally toxic for Repub­li­cans, and the deal will make the GOP vote twice ahead of next year’s midterm elec­tions.

Fis­cal con­ser­va­tives have clam­ored for deep cuts in spend­ing in ex­change for any in­crease in the gov­ern­ment’s bor­row­ing author­ity. The storm re­lief mea­sure had wide­spread sup­port, but the link­age with the debt ceil­ing left many Repub­li­cans frus­trated.

“Are we do­ing any­thing on fis­cal san­ity? No,” said tea party Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va. “And so Mick (Mul­vaney) came over to­day, the Trea­sury sec­re­tary came over to­day, and we said, ‘Do you have a plan for fis­cal san­ity go­ing for­ward?’ No. Crick­ets. So that’s the frus­tra­tion.”

Don­ald Trump

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