Trump could seek billions in Harvey recovery aid next week

By Damian Paletta, Ed O’Keefe and Mike DeBonis

President Trump and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott hold a news conference at the Texas Department of Public Safety Emergency Operations Center in Austin on Aug. 29. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Trump could request a package of emergency funding to deal with the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey as soon as next week, a senior administration official said, reshuffling the political agenda as the White House scrambles to deal with devastation left by the storm.

The funding package is expected to only be a partial down payment and serve in part to backstop depleted reserves that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had on hand to respond to disasters.

No final decision on the funding request has been made and it could fluctuate based on conversations with lawmakers.

Trump has promised political leaders in Texas that he would do whatever was necessary to help them deal with the widespread flooding brought on by record rainfall in the southeastern part of the state.

Congressional leaders return from a lengthy recess next week. Lawmakers from both parties have said they want to direct emergency aid in the wake of flooding caused by the hurricane, but it’s unclear how long passing such a measure could take.

House Republican aides said White House and congressional staff have started discussing what measures might be necessary to aid storm victims but that there is no firm plan yet for how or when Congress might act.

The White House and congressional leaders have not yet determined how large the initial rescue package should be, but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that the state will need more financial support than the government extended to Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

Trump is planning to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Paul D. Ryan …read more