Politics

End-Of-Year Budget Fight Looms Over Abbott’s $61 Billion Harvey Aid Request

Governor Greg Abbott said he expects the White House will send a supplemental budget request – including funding for flood infrastructure – to Congress by mid-November, just weeks before lawmakers have to pass an omnibus spending bill to avoid a government shutdown

Governor Greg Abbott’s latest request for Hurricane Harvey aid could face resistance on Capitol Hill. Abbott is seeking $61 billion, much of which would go to infrastructure designed to protect Texas from future storms and flooding.

The governor just returned from Washington, where he met with Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Abbott said Mulvaney will work with the governor’s staff over the next few weeks to turn the aid request into a budget proposal.

“He said that he will submit a supplemental budget request to Congress in approximately two weeks,” said Abbott. “That was later confirmed when I was meeting with Senator[s John] Cornyn, [Ted] Cruz, and [Mitch] McConnell.”

But Cornyn sounded a warning. The Harvey request is likely to get caught up in negotiations over an omnibus spending bill to avoid a government shutdown on December 8. That means Harvey aid will have to compete with other priorities. Those priorities range from reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to coming up with a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The more items competing for funds, Cornyn said, the less likely any are to pass.

“Then what you’re left with is another continuing resolution,” said Cornyn, “which means that Texas and other disaster areas will not get the relief that we’ve been promised, even in that December 8 omnibus bill.”

The Texas delegation previously sought flood mitigation infrastructure funding as part of the October Harvey aid package. Cornyn expressed frustration at what he called the administration and the House “kicking the can down the road.”

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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