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Mitch McConnell: Congress must secure aid for hurricane victims

Mitch McConnell: Congress must secure aid for hurricane victims

GOP leaders have signaled that they want to use the urgent Harvey aid bill to solve perhaps the most vexing issue facing Congress this month: Increasing the US debt limit to make sure the government can borrow freely again to cover its bills, including Harvey aid.

The bill was approved by 316 votes in favor and 90 against.

The Senate voted to table an amendment aimed at paying for Hurricane Harvey relief using cuts to foreign aid in an 87-10 vote Thursday.

Paul's office noted that the United States Agency for International Development's (USAID) latest information shows that roughly $20 billion in unobligated foreign aid is now available, which the senator believes would be better spent on domestic emergencies.

But politics quickly intruded as Democratic leaders insisted they would back the measure in the Senate only if it were linked to a short-term increase in the nation's borrowing limit, not the longer-term hike that Republicans and the Trump administration want. All 17 nos were Republicans.

Lawmakers face a daunting workload and fast-approaching deadlines, including the need to fund the government and increase the United States' $19.9 trillion debt ceiling by month's end.

"We had a very good meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer", Trump said while aboard Air Force One, without mentioning House Speaker Paul Ryan or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

If passed by the House, the bill will then head to the President's desk. The House passed the Harvey agreement on Wednesday.

The measure includes $15.25 billion in aid for Harvey, including $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund and $450 million for the Small Business Authority disaster loan program.

He said he expects Congress to discuss eliminating the debt ceiling, saying it "complicates things". "For many years people have been talking about getting rid of debt ceiling altogether and there are a lot of good reasons to do that".

"I don't know, but you're going to have trouble getting people to agree to having the debt limit just automatically raised", McCain told reporters on Thursday.

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