A majority of House Republicans voted for a package on Friday providing more than $15 billion to aid communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey, a short-term extension of government funding and an increase of the debt limit.
But the lawmakers who opposed the measure, all of whom were Republicans, included a handful of Texas Republicans despite the hurricane devastating their state, top Democratic targets in 2018 and hard-line conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus.
Four Texas Republicans opposed the package: Reps. Joe Barton, Jeb Hensarling, Sam JohnsonSamuel (Sam) Robert JohnsonDan Bongino to present five-part Fox series on people 'canceled' CEO fired after mocking teen for wearing dress to prom Van Taylor wins reelection to Texas seat held by GOP since 1968 MORE and Mac Thornberry. But none of them represent counties deemed disaster areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Thornberry, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said that he opposed the measure because it only included a three-month extension of government funding that he doesn’t think provides enough certainty for the military.
“Most concerning to me, and the reason I am voting against the bill, is that it forces our military to operate under a stopgap continuing resolution — once again,” Thornberry said in a statement.
“There is plenty of blame to go around between both parties and both the executive and legislative branches of government. But this negligence must stop. We must fulfill our duty. We must do better.”
Barton noted in his explanation of Friday’s vote that he did support a standalone Harvey aid package in the House earlier this week, which passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 419-3.
The Senate amended the bill in a Thursday vote to increase the level of disaster aid and add a short-term government spending bill through Dec. 8, with a debt limit hike ending around the same time.
But Barton cited the debt limit hike in the package as the reason why he could not support the final measure.
“I am not against voting for relief programs to help hurricane victims, but I am against raising the public debt ceiling without a plan to reduce deficits in the short term, and eliminate them in the long term. The money we vote to spend today will have to be paid back by our children and grandchildren,” he said.
Other conservative Texans, who are typically loath to vote for debt limit hikes without spending reforms, found themselves voting for one on Friday as they faced pressure to support Hurricane Harvey assistance. Reps. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertFocus on Perry could mean more subpoenas, challenges for Jan. 6 panel Members of Congress not running for reelection in 2022 House Ethics panel dismisses security screening fine issued to GOP lawmaker MORE and Randy WeberRandall (Randy) Keith WeberGOP leader's marathon speech forces House Democrats to push vote McCarthy delays swift passage of spending plan with record-breaking floor speech New group of GOP lawmakers file articles of impeachment against Biden MORE, who are both members of the Freedom Caucus, were among the 133 Republicans to vote for the package.
Leaders of the Freedom Caucus voted against the package, including Chairman Mark Meadows (N.C.) and Reps. Justin AmashJustin AmashDemocrats defend Afghan withdrawal amid Taliban advance Vietnam shadow hangs over Biden decision on Afghanistan Kamala Harris and our shameless politics MORE (Mich.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Scott Perry (Pa.), Dave Brat (Va.) and Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Judge questions Trump's claim of 'absolute immunity' in Jan. 6 lawsuits Alabama GOP gears up for fierce Senate primary clash MORE (Ala.).
The deal for the Harvey aid, government spending extension and debt limit increase was struck by President Trump and Democratic leaders during a White House meeting, despite objections from Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden: A good coach knows when to change up the team McConnell says he made 'inadvertent omission' in voting remarks amid backlash These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 MORE (R-Ky.) But both Ryan and McConnell decided to go along with Trump’s inclination to support the offer made by Democrats to extend the debt limit for only three months, instead of the 18 months the GOP had suggested.
Some members of the conservative Republican Study Committee joined Freedom Caucus members in opposing the package, including Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.).
A handful of GOP lawmakers expected to face competitive reelection races in 2018 also voted against the measure, including Reps. Peter Roskam (Ill.), Don Bacon (Neb.), Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderBottom line Bottom line Bottom line MORE (Kan.), Duncan Hunter (Calif.) and Lee Zeldin (N.Y.).
Yoder notably is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, whose members typically join in supporting government spending bills that come out of the panel.
In a statement, Yoder noted his support for the standalone Hurricane Harvey aid bill earlier in the week but said he was “deeply frustrated” with the package he voted on Friday.
“That package was targeted, necessary, and narrowly met the immediate needs of victims. It spent taxpayer dollars wisely and didn’t take advantage of emergency needs to achieve other controversial priorities. Today’s package didn’t meet those standards,” Yoder said. “I strongly believe there are bipartisan compromises that work for the American people, but today’s short-term fix that kicks the can down the road wasn’t one of them.”