The House voted overwhelmingly to approve a package of emergency aid for Hurricane Harvey that also extends until Dec. 8 government spending and a suspension of the public debt limit.
The 316-90 vote would appropriate $15.3 billion in emergency supplemental funding for fiscal 2017 as an initial payment to cover the costs of responding to multiple natural disasters, including Harvey.
The measure sweeps through multiple must-pass items in September for Congress in one big piece of legislation. The Senate passed the measure on Thursday.
Lawmakers affected by Hurricane Harvey used the Friday morning debate to tell personal stories of the suffering of their constituents in districts inundated with historic floods.
“Harvey brought down a downpour but I will tell you that Texans and Americans, and folks brought in an outpour . . . our folks have stepped up,” Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, said on the House floor.
“Please, please vote for this bill, it is time for us to step up, it is time to set politics aside, and it is time now to focus on the tragedy that is called Harvey and may soon be called Irma,” Weber said, referring to the historic Hurricane Irma heading straight for the Florida coast.
“I do support the underlying bill that we are considering today with all my heart,” Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., the House Rules Committee’s top Democrat, said.
“We are public servants, and we are expected to do what we are doing,” House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas said, thanking quick work with Slaughter on the package when lawmakers returned from the recess Tuesday.
“The agency is running out of funds and bracing for Irma’s impact and perhaps two other storms that may be headed to the United States of America and other territories. We are one nation under God, I give thanks to that Mr. Speaker,” Sessions said.
But 90 Republicans nevertheless voted against the bill. Conservatives had criticized the bill for combining the emergency funding in the same bill that provided government funding and suspended the debt ceiling The vote came after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney met House Republicans to urge them to back the bill.
Kellie Mejdrich and Bridget Bowman contributed to this story.