House passes nearly $8 billion in Hurricane Harvey relief
WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives approved nearly $8 billion in Hurricane Harvey relief funds Wednesday in an overwhelming bipartisan vote, the first of several expected installments to aid recovery in areas devastated by the massive storm.
The bill was approved in a 419-3 vote, with three Republicans voting against the proposal: Reps. Justin Amash, R-Mich., Andy Biggs, R-Ariz, and Thomas Massie, R-Ky.
The measure now heads to the Senate, where GOP leaders are expected to attach the funding to a must-pass measure to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a U.S. government default, before sending it back to the House for a final passage vote. Some House conservatives have been critical of tying the two measures to each other and voting on the debt ceiling without corresponding spending cuts.
House members are prepared to stay in Washington until taking that second vote and are preparing for a potential Saturday vote.
"We will not leave until this is done," Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said this morning.
The proposal includes roughly $7.5 billion to replenish the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief coffers. An additional $450 million would help finance disaster loans through the Small Business Association.
Members of Congress are also preparing to potentially make relief funds available for any damage caused by Hurricane Irma as the storm continues to approach Florida.