$15.25bn emergency disaster fund approved by Congress

Senate moves ahead with disaster relief fiscal package

The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved US$15.25 billion in aid for areas affected by Hurricane Harvey and other natural disasters, along with measures that would fund the federal government and raise its borrowing limit through December 8. The vote was 80-17, with all "no" votes by Republicans.

The Senate vote comes on the heels of a deal between President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders who agreed Wednesday to raise the debt ceiling for another three months.

The bill to help recovery in Texas - and particularly the area around Houston - would also temporarily raise the U.S. federal borrowing limit and keep the government running for the next three more months.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's midnight move added $7.4 billion in community development block grant funds to a House-passed $7.9 billion measure providing an emergency replenishment for disaster aid coffers.

"We have a bad habit around here of kicking the can down the road, like we just did", said Republican Sen.

"This funding will serve as an initial first step toward helping Texans begin the process of rebuilding", said Sen.

The aid package, almost double Trump's initial request, now goes to the House of Representatives, where a group of more than 150 conservative Republicans have announced their opposition to the plan.

The Senate is almost doubling the initial Harvey aid package.

The House is expected to sign off on the combo legislation this week, though likely with heavy Republican opposition.

"Nobody has the courage to say, why don't we pay for it", Paul said in a frustrated tone on the Senate floor.

The House of Representatives approved the measure earlier Friday; the Senate had passed it Thursday.

"There should be some effort to offset the spending and to reform the way we do budgeting", Barton said, as some GOP lawmakers felt like they had given up a golden opportunity to make a push to rein in spending. Congress rarely acts before an 11th-hour deadline and most lawmakers were expecting a long, protracted fight over the debt ceiling and government spending to consume most of the month.

Related News: