White House to request initial $12.7B for Harvey relief

White House to request initial $12.7B for Harvey relief

The White House is expected to ask Congress for an initial $12.7 billion in emergency relief funding in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a senior GOP aide told The Hill on Friday.

The White House has not made the formal request but is expected to soon as the administration seeks to respond to a Gulf region that has been devastated by historic flooding and rainfall.

As an initial request, the White House will ask for $5.5 billion for a disaster relief fund and $450 million for a Small Business Administration program, which it hopes will be approved when lawmakers return to Washington next week from the August recess.

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The White House is also expected to ask that an additional $6.7 billion be added to a stopgap funding bill that Congress must pass by the end of the month to keep the government running, the aide said.

The New York Times first reported the news.

Some lawmakers, including the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a close ally of Trump’s, have said Harvey relief aid must be approved by Congress in a separate vote from a bill to raise the U.S. debt ceiling.

Meadows has said a Harvey relief package will pass on its own and that it would “send the wrong message” to add billions in spending to the debate around the debt ceiling.

Freedom Caucus members oppose a “clean” debt ceiling hike and generally want to see spending reform in any agreement.

Meadows, however, has said he will not demand budgetary offsets for Harvey spending, a reversal for the conservative leader.

Meadows and other conservative Republicans voted against relief aid for Superstorm Sandy in 2013 because the spending was not offset with cuts elsewhere. They also said that bill was stuffed with spending that was unrelated to the storm.

Office of Management and Budget director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee Trump pick to head watchdog agency is who consumers need Dems fume as Trump's consumer bureau pick refuses to discuss role in border policy MORE, a former founding member of the Freedom Caucus, has been “working around the clock” with lawmakers on the spending package, the White House said.

Trump’s homeland security adviser Tom Bossert has expressed confidence the money would come through.

“I'm not worried at all that we won't have the money for the operations underway and the operations that we foresee in the next month,” Bossert said at a Thursday briefing.

“I think we have every reason to believe that that's going to happen in a responsible way,” he said. “From my perspective now and from the planning session we had this morning, I don't think there's going to be any particular problem in our approach to the Congress in this fall.”