Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday called on Congress to combine a $7.9 billion disaster relief package for Harvey with a contentious increase in the nation's debt limit, saying it was time to "put politics aside" so storm victims in Texas can get the help they need. "The president and I believe that it should be tied to the Harvey funding. Our first priority is to make sure that the state gets money," he said. "It is critical, and to do that, we need to make sure we raise the debt limit." Asked about Trump's past threats to force a government shutdown if Congress does not also include his $1.6 billion request for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, Mnuchin said Harvey aid was Trump's "first objective right now," the AP reports.
Trump visited storm-ravaged areas in Texas on Saturday, expressing hope for speedy congressional action on relief aid. But some House conservatives have said directly pairing it with an increase in the debt limit would be a "terrible idea" that sends the wrong message on overall government spending. Trump plans to meet with congressional leaders from both parties this week. On Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott described the federal aid package as an important initial "down payment" on Harvey relief that he expects will come to $150 billion to $180 billion. Per Politico, Abbot added that the damage wrought is more comparable in scale to Hurricane Katrina than Sandy. "We have over 5 million people who were affected by this," he said, noting recovery would require "even more than what was funded for Katrina, which was about $120 billion." (Read more Steven Mnuchin stories.)