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White House Plans To Use Harvey To Secure Debt Ceiling Hike

Vince Ware moves his sofas onto the sidewalk from his house which was left flooded from Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston, Texas. REUTERS/Adrees LatifVince Ware moves his sofas onto the sidewalk from his house which was left flooded from Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston, Texas. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

The White House will work Wednesday to convince Republicans in Congress they must raise the debt ceiling when they pass a Hurricane Harvey relief bill, or risk delaying the desperately needed disaster funds.

If Congress doesn’t pass a clean debt ceiling increase, FEMA may be unable to immediately fund disaster victim claims, administration officials will tell Republicans. Multiple House and White House officials talked to talked to Politico about the plan, which Trump is expected to publicly endorse Wednesday.

Conservatives including Texas Republicans and the House Freedom Caucus do not want to link the the disaster funding to a debt ceiling increase. They’ve expressed doubt that it’s really necessary to raise the debt ceiling by $2 trillion in order to get disaster funds to Harvey victims. The White House is asking for $7.5 billion of immediate disaster relief funds, and is expected to ask for another $6.5 billion later.

“We’ll be glad to give him enough relief on debt ceiling to make the Harvey payments,” Republican Rep. Mark Meadows told reporters Tuesday. “If it’s making the Harvey payments, I don’t know why you would have to increase our debt by $2 trillion in order to make a $15 billion payment.”

Republican Rep. Mark Walker said Tuesday the plan to tie the disaster funds with the debt ceiling hike was the product of a “backroom deal” between House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“This is a little unsettling and even more frustrating,” Walker said on Fox News.

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