President Donald Trump has signed a deal he struck with Democratic leaders to avoid a government shutdown, prevent a debt default, and provide more than $15 billion in additional disaster relief for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
In a statement, the White House said Trump signed the bill on Friday. The House voted 316-90 earlier in the day to approve the package and send it to the president's desk.
The bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 80–17 on Thursday, contains $15.2 billion in emergency funding and comes as FEMA is reportedly running out of cash as it responds to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, and prepares for Hurricane Irma, which is expected to hit Florida this weekend.
The House passed $7.8 billion in hurricane relief funding in a near-unanimous vote on Wednesday. But the Senate package includes an additional $7.4 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to repair infrastructure and housing, among other things, in the wake of both disasters.
The Senate bill also goes much further than merely providing funds for disaster relief, a move that has angered Republicans in both the House and Senate, putting the package in danger as it now heads back to the House for approval. All 17 "no" votes on Thursday came from Senate Republicans. Likewise, all 90 House "no" votes came from Republicans and the deal was criticized by some conservative members of the chamber.
After Trump sided with Democrats at a White House meeting on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to add two major provisions to the hurricane relief bill. It now includes a continuing resolution, which will keep the government from shutting down at the end of September and maintain current spending levels. It will also raise the debt ceiling, preventing the country from defaulting on its debt. Both of those provisions expire on Dec. 8th.
Though McConnell agreed to support the deal struck by Trump, some of the Republican conference was enraged. The agreement sets the GOP-controlled Congress up for a showdown in December, and many Republicans argue that Trump has sold them out and given Democrats the upper-hand in those negotiations. Conservatives are also angry that Trump, and now the Senate, have agreed to the package without offering any spending cuts.
Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, who voted against the package on Thursday, said in a statement that while hurricane funding is "urgently needed," he was "disappointed that a bill intended to help people in need has been swept up into a bad deal for the American people."
"Unfortunately, the agreement reached by Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and President Trump attaches hurricane relief funds to yet another suspension of the debt limit without any spending or budgetary reforms despite our national debt approaching $20 trillion," Toomey said.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, who also voted against the bill, argued that passing federal funding for just three months would "harm" the military "during a time of incredible global uncertainty," calling it "irresponsible and a dereliction of our most routine duties."
A senior Republican aide called the deal "completely ridiculous" on Wednesday, telling BuzzFeed News: "It’s like they’re trying to lose."
Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, took to the Senate floor before the vote to slam the Trump deal, saying that it gives Democrats too much leverage and makes it more likely that the government will shut down or default on its debt later this year. "[Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer ... just made himself the most powerful man in America for the month of December," Sasse said.
"This is an embarrassing moment for a Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican administration," Sasse added.
Lissandra Villa contributed to this story.
Emma Loop is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. PGP fingerprint: 4A39 DD99 953C 6CAF D68C 85CD C380 AB23 859B 0611.
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