Trump agrees with Democrats to raise debt limit, tie to Harvey aid

By Sara Shayanian and Danielle Haynes  |  Updated Sept. 6, 2017 at 4:51 PM
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Sept. 6 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he agreed to Democrats' request to tie a $7.8 billion relief package for Hurricane Harvey victims to a measure to raise the debt limit in the short term.

Trump confirmed the agreement while on Air Force One as he prepared to travel to North Dakota to talk about tax reform.

"We essentially came to a deal, and I think the deal will be very good," he told reporters. "We had a very, very cordial and professional meeting."

Earlier in the day, Trump met with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on the deal, which will raise the debt ceiling until December 15.

"Both sides have every intention of avoiding default in December and look forward to working together on the many issues before us," Pelosi and Schumer said.

Democrats sought to tie the short-term debt limit increase to the dire need for Harvey aid because of the inability of Republicans to find votes for the former.

House Speaker Paul Ryan shot down the proposal, saying it would jeopardize the kind of hurricane response stricken areas need.

"I think it's ridiculous and disgraceful that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling. It's unworkable," Ryan said.

The proposed bill, H.R. 3672, provides funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and additional funding for the Small Business Administration.

Most members of the House Freedom Caucus oppose linking Harvey aid and debt limit, not wanting it to add to the deficit. But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling by Sept. 29.

Leaders said they were especially confident the initial bill would pass the House. The White House hinted at calling for an increase to be included in the disaster aid bill.

"Given the need for additional spending as a result of disaster response and initial recovery from Hurricane Harvey, the administration continues to urge the Congress to act expeditiously to ensure that the debt ceiling does not affect these critical response and recovery efforts," the White House stated.

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