Senate Approves Deal to Lift Debt Ceiling, Send Hurricane Relief Funds

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ROME – MAY 15: A general view of the Italian Senate as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi attends a Senate confidence session for his government, May 15, 2008 in Rome, Italy. At the end of the sit at the Upper House Senate, the new right-wing government of Silvio Berlusconi, easily won the definitive vote of […]

The Senate approved Thursday a package of bills that paired emergency funding for hurricane relief with measures that would raise the debt ceiling and keep the government open for three months.

The vote was 80-17. All 17 nos were Republicans.

The legislation now goes to the House, which could vote as early as Thursday night.

President Donald Trump, in a surprising move, signed onto the package Wednesday, siding with Democrats who proposed bundling the bills together but only with a three-month extension for the debt ceiling. Republican leaders had sought a debt limit increase for as long as 18 months.

All told, the package includes about $22 billion for FEMA’s disaster relief fund, $15.25 billion of which is new, emergency funds, while another $6.7 billion was already slated to be in the spending measure that funds the government.

Republican opponents of the bill argued that it delayed big decisions until later this fall.

“We have a bad habit around here of kicking the can down the road, like we just did,” said Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. “I voted against doing just that.”

The deal made things difficult for Republicans who wanted to support Harvey aid but who opposed raising the debt limit without any spending cuts.

“I’m certainly not voting against helping the people of Texas and Florida and those disasters,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin. “My ‘no’ is all about the debt ceiling without any meaningful structural control attached to it.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina labeled his “no” vote as a “protest vote.” Asked whether the President or Congressional leadership were to blame for the way the deal went down, Graham said he was “upset with the process.”

“So that means I am upset with the people in charge of the process,” he added.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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