President Donald Trump’s unexpected alliance with the Democratic opposition allowed US Congress today to approve a $ 15.25 billion aid package for Hurricane Harvey victims, while extending the three-month debt ceiling and providing funding to the government federal until December 8.
The result of the House of Representatives vote made clear today the discontent among the Republican ranks of the pact: 316 votes in favor and 90 against, all of them conservatives of President Trump’s party.
Republicans have a majority in both the lower house and the senate.
Hours later, the president signed the bill so that federal aid disbursement can begin, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders confirmed in her social networking account Twitter, stressing that such funds will provide “much-needed support to the survivors of the storm”.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted,” she added.
These funds will go to the victims and the reconstruction work by Harvey, who left 60 dead and thousands displaced in South Texas and Louisiana, and will serve to expand the resources of the Federal Disaster Management Agency (FEMA) ) at a time when the US is preparing for the arrival of another powerful hurricane: Irma, who will reach the coast of Florida this weekend.
Lower House Speaker, Rep. Paul Ryan, acknowledged that the coming of the powerful hurricanes had forced them to act more quickly and avoided a deeper debate over the increase in the borrowing limit.
“People are quickly soliciting their help from FEMA through their mobile phones, those petitions are being approved, and that money is coming out at a faster rate than we have seen before, to the extent that the agency could run out of money. money as early as Friday, “Ryan told a news conference.
Republicans have traditionally opposed any rise in the debt ceiling, which is not matched by cuts in public spending.
One of the conservative lawmakers who voted against the bill, Mark Warner, stressed that Republicans campaigned “to change status quo,” and the Americans chose them for that message of curbing public spending.
The US debt is currently close to $ 20 trillion.
On this occasion, however, President Trump sought the opposition alliance, and after a meeting with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he agreed to join both the raising debt ceiling for three months with funding for Harvey.
In announcing the agreement, Trump said that “what the country needs are more agreements of a bipartisan nature”.
The deadline to approve a new debt ceiling and to fund the government for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, expired later this month, but after the pact lawmakers will have time until December to close a deal long term and greater scope.
Thus, the debate was settled without the drama of past years, as in 2011, when it was not reached until the last moment, which caused the rating agency Standard & Poor’s to lower for the first time in history the credit quality of the country.
In this regard, White House Budget Office director Mick Mulvaney applauded Harvey’s proposal for assistance along with the debt ceiling in assuring that it was “the right thing” and tried to calm tensions in the breast of Republican lawmakers.
“What we have done is simply to move this (the debt ceiling) for now to be able to continue operating in these difficult times. I do not suppose that we have had two major hurricanes hitting the country in the same week. priorities and moving it to December is nothing serious, “Mulvaney said in an interview on Fox.