Daily Report for Executives provides in-depth coverage of unfolding legislative, regulatory, and judicial news from the nation’s capital, the states, and around the world. This daily news service...
Key appropriators are signaling that a Hurricane Harvey disaster aid package is likely to follow the approach Congress took after Hurricane Katrina, with a quick round of federal funds, followed by other packages that fine-tuned the details of federal assistance.
Lawmakers cautioned that the price tag to cover the widespread damage in the Gulf Coast region won’t be known for weeks—if not months—as waters retreat and federal agencies make their assessments. But the costs are said likely to far exceed the $51.8 billion initially provided after Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Harvey has already doused the region with more than four feet of water and displaced thousands of people. Some 11,000 Texans took refuge in Houston’s convention center alone.
Conservatives in the Republican Party aren’t expected to object to the package, even if it advances on an “emergency” basis without cuts in the budget. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who opposed the Sandy supplemental spending bill for carrying “pork,” said he’s working to get all the local, state, and federal support he can to help constituents in his state recover.
“We’re going to see bipartisan support in Congress for providing the aid Texans need,” Cruz told reporters.
But as the process goes forward, lawmakers said they can’t rule out a scenario where many other items get attached to the spending legislation, some of which could sharply drive up its cost. Here are 10 things to watch.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said it’s possible the first round of assistance will get attached to a must-pass vehicle like the bill to fund the federal government after current funds expire Sept. 30. Republican leaders and the White House are discussing a plan to continue current federal funding at the $1.070 trillion level through December.
Also said possible to carry relief could be a bill to increase the federal debt limit, also expiring around the same time. Or, in the alternative, the debt limit, the stopgap, and the hurricane recovery funds could all move together, Blunt said.
Republican leaders also are expected to extend the expiring National Flood Insurance Program by Sept. 30. That authorization and disaster aid could be combined and take a ride on the stopgap or debt limit bill, aides said.
Aides said help for Texas, Louisiana, and possibly other states to recover from Harvey might not be the only assistance provided this fall. Among other things, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) told Congress earlier this year that the state still hadn’t received all the federal aid it was promised to address flooding in the spring and summer of 2016.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) wrote to President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in May pointing out that the state got only a “shocking” $6.1 million of the $929.4 million it sought in last year’s spending package to address damages the state sustained during Hurricane Matthew last year.
Storms in the future could drive the price tag of a supplemental spending package higher, aides said. Hurricane Matthew, which caused $15 billion in damage, hit the southeastern U.S. in 2016.
Adding to the unknowns is the possibility that Trump himself may ask for extra funding unrelated to disaster aid. He recently said in a prime time speech that he wants to increase troop levels in Afghanistan. Aides said it hasn’t been ruled out that the president will ask Congress for more money outside the regular budget process for that.
Trump attracted the attention of budget hawks when he recently called the opioid crisis an emergency that requires a federal response. “Trump may have been signaling [that] he plans to request additional dollars using the emergency designation and not to cut other spending to pay for it,” said Stan Collender, executive vice president of MSLGROUP.COM.
In the aftermath of Sandy the tax-writing committees in Congress also wrote tax relief legislation to help states hurt by the monster storm. A similar effort could be seen this fall when lawmakers consider broader tax legislation.
Trump continues to threatens to hold government funding hostage if Congress doesn’t give him the $1.6 billion he wants for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Including it in a must-pass stopgap would threaten Democratic support, but it could also appear in a later different spending bill.
Besides the September stopgap, the most likely vehicle for much of the extra spending remains the $1.1 trillion, 12-bill omnibus appropriations package that Republican leaders want to pass in December. Besides spending, that package also could be the vehicle to enact tax cuts and get many other legislative items across the finish line, aides said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Nancy Ognanovich in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)