President Donald Trump’s response to Harvey victims, in terms of actual post-hurricane aid, could be a real test for the White House and Congress now that the cost of recovering from the weekend hurricane has been estimated in the billions.
This is Trump’s first political experience with a big disaster assistance package and comes at a time when budget and spending issues are dividing Congress. A giant Harvey package could be a distraction just as the administration is trying to kick off its fiscal game.
The Washington Post said recovery funds could amount to billions of dollars and would force policymakers to reach an agreement in approving the funds.
A White House official stated that leaders were discussing emergency funding to allocate for relief and rebuilding.
Harvey hit Texas on Friday with devastating floods and relentless rainfall and, as water levels continue to rise, so do the expected costs of recovery.
Up to now, Washington had been locked in a budget battle further aggravated by Trump’s threats of a partial government shutdown if his $1.6 billion in funding for the Mexican border wall is not approved.
Critics believe a Harvey recovery package could force some sort of resolution.
William Hoagland, a former GOP staff director for the Senate Budget Committee, told the Post he didn’t think the wall was as important as ensuring those affected by the hurricane are taken care of.
Former Republican Congresswoman Nan Hayworth applauded Trump’s response to Hurricane Harvey, saying he had shown "great leadership and executive qualities" in the face of emergency.
"It's all about logistics and about making sure that there are clear lines of direction and execution," Hayworth told Fox News.
"And they have pre-placed resources all around the southeast, where they'll be able to mobilize them."
Residents have been warned to “stay put” as the rest of Harvey passes through.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told CNN that "it's going to last four to five days – this is day one."
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