US President Donald Trump signed into law a bill to provide $15.25 billion in assistance for victims of Hurricane Harvey, extend the debt ceiling for three months and fund the operation of the federal government until December 8. The President “just signed H.R. 601 providing much-needed support for storm survivors. Our thoughts and prayers are with all impacted,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted on Friday. The result of an agreement between Trump and the Democratic opposition, the bill passed the House of Representatives earlier Friday by a vote of 316-90, Efe news reported.
All of the nay votes came from Republicans opposed to raising the debt ceiling without securing spending cuts in return. The measure sailed through the Senate on Wednesday. Funds for victims of Harvey, which initially made landfall in southern Texas on August 25 as a Category 4 hurricane and left at least 60 people dead, caused catastrophic flooding and displaced thousands of people in southern Texas and Louisiana, will boost the resources of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as Florida braces for the arrival of major Hurricane Irma this weekend.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Thursday that FEMA was on the verge of running out of money. Congress faced a September 30 deadline to raise the debt limit and fund the government for the next fiscal year (which starts on October 1).
The deal worked out between Democratic leaders and Trump gives lawmakers until December to work on a long-term and more far-reaching accord, averting — at least for now — the drama of recent years surrounding the debt ceiling. In 2011, no agreement was reached until the 11th hour, prompting Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the US’s AAA sovereign credit rating for the first time in the country’s history.