Conservative leader: Don’t tie Harvey relief to debt ceiling

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The chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus says aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey should not be part of a vehicle to raise the debt ceiling.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), an ally of President Trump who leads the conservative caucus, said disaster aid should pass on its own, apart from separate measures the government must pick up in September to raise the nation’s borrowing limit and fund the government.
“The Harvey relief would pass on its own, and to use that as a vehicle to get people to vote for a debt ceiling is not appropriate,” he said an interview with The Washington Post, signaling agreement with Trump on the approach.
{mosads}It would “send the wrong message” to add $15 to $20 billion of spending while increasing the debt ceiling, Meadows added.
Talk of combining legislation to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling picked up after it became obvious that Congress would need to take action to help communities stricken by Harvey’s rainfall. Much of the Houston area remains under water nearly a week after the storm hit.
Congress faces end-of-month deadlines to prevent a government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. Lumping the two measures together and then adding Harvey aid to the larger package would make it difficult for members to vote against it. 
The Freedom Caucus has enough members to block legislation from passing the House if Democrats also vote against a package.
The conservative group has vehemently opposed a “clean” debt ceiling lift, demanding instead that any legislation that prevents the U.S. from a disastrous default should be linked to spending reforms.
Meadows earlier this week said he would not demand budgetary offsets to the Harvey aid package.
Many conservative Republicans, including Meadows, voted against relief aid for Hurricane Sandy in 2013 because the spending was not offset with cuts elsewhere.
Others claimed that one of the aid bills did not constitute emergency funding because the repair efforts were spread out over several years, or falsely said the provisions were unrelated to relief efforts at all.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the number two Republican in the Senate, said that work had begun on a supplemental appropriations bill to fund emergency aid.
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