Senate Passes $15.3 Billion Hurricane Aid Package as Irma Bears Down on Florida - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Harvey Aftermath

Harvey Aftermath

Harvey was a category 4 hurricane then became a flooding event on the Texas Gulf Coast

Senate Passes $15.3 Billion Hurricane Aid Package as Irma Bears Down on Florida

    Senate Passes $15.3 Billion Hurricane Aid Package as Irma Bears Down on Florida
    Texas Military Department
    551st MRBC searches a Beaumont neighborhood on Sept. 3 for civilians after Hurricane Harvey.

    The Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly backed a $15.3 billion aid package for victims of Harvey, nearly doubling President Donald Trump's emergency request, and adding a deal between Trump and Democrats to increase America's borrowing authority and fund the government.

    The 80-17 vote sends the massive package to the House for a Friday vote, with emergency accounts running out of money and Hurricane Irma barreling toward the East Coast. Trump is expected to sign the measure.

    The must-do legislation would provide money to government agencies through Dec. 8, eliminating the threat of a government shutdown when the new fiscal year starts next month.

    Thursday's vote came a day after Trump stunned GOP leaders by siding with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, by backing a short-term extension to the debt limit increase and the spending bill.

    Big Tex Makes Debut With Tribute to Hurricane Harvey Victims

    [DFW] Big Tex Makes Debut With Tribute to Hurricane Harvey Victims

    It's perhaps the best time of the year for many North Texans -- welcoming back Big Tex! Because that just means the State Fair of Texas is right around the corner.

    (Published Friday, Sept. 22, 2017)

    The need to raise the debt limit to ease a looming cash crunch that is worsening because of unanticipated Harvey spending was a major headache for GOP leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who had urged a longer extension to spare Republicans multiple votes ahead of next year's midterm elections.

    GOP leaders are fuming, but Ryan backed the idea on Thursday, telling reporters that the president didn't want to have "some partisan fight in the middle of the response."

    The aid money comes as Harvey recovery efforts are draining federal disaster aid coffers and Irma is taking aim at Florida. It's just the first installment on a recovery and rebuilding package for the twin hurricanes that could eclipse the more than $110 billion cost to taxpayers of Hurricane Katrina.

    In a surprise move late Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell added $7.4 billion in rebuilding funding to Trump's $7.9 billion request to deal with the immediate emergency in Texas and parts of Louisiana.

    "It will provide certainty and stability for first responders, state officials, and the many others involved in preparing for and recovering from these storms, with critically needed emergency resources that will not be interrupted by the prospect of a shutdown or default," McConnell said Thursday. "The recovery effort for a record-setting storm like Harvey has strained resources to the limit already."

    McConnell also added a temporary extension of the federal flood insurance program, which otherwise would have expired at the end of the month.

    Gov. Abbott Reflects on Leading State After Harvey

    [DFW] Gov. Abbott Reflects on Leading State After Harvey

    Gov. Greg Abbott is opening up about what it was like leading the state after Hurricane Harvey devastated much of the Gulf Coast.

    (Published Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017)

    The additional community block grant money is to jump-start rebuilding efforts. The money can cover costs the Federal Emergency Management Agency can't.

    "This funding will serve as an initial first step toward helping Texans begin the process of rebuilding," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who requested the additional funding be adding to the measure.

    The $15 billion-plus aid package is also crafted in such a way to free up another $7 billion in Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief funds.

    Trump's move is galling to many GOP conservatives. Pelosi used a Thursday news conference to take a victory lap, telling reporters that her deal with Trump ensured that Democrats would have leverage during upcoming Washington debates this fall on health care, government spending, and immigration.

    Just before the final vote, the Senate easily voted 87-10 to kill a move by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to pay for the aid package by cutting foreign aid accounts.

    "Why don't we pay for this? Why don't we simply take some money that we were going to spend somewhere else for something not as valuable in another country, and why don't we spend it here?" Paul said.

    Premature Baby Evacuated Before Harvey is Thriving

    [DFW] Premature Baby Evacuated Before Harvey is Thriving

    A Forney mother says the sudden evacuation of her premature baby boy has led to nothing but blessings. Baby Logan weighed 2.5 ounces when he was evacuated from the path of Hurricane Harvey. Since then, he's gained a full pound.

    (Published Friday, Sept. 15, 2017)

    Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., fared only slightly better in losing a 72-25 vote to kill a bid to remove the debt limit language and all spending above Trump's request.

    "Do your constituents know that we're using the hurricane as an excuse to extend the debt ceiling?" Sasse said. "We can't pay our credit card bill, so we're just going to take over the credit card company and change our credit limit without any discussion."

    Earlier he railed against the deal between the Republican president and Democrats.

    "Yesterday we saw Washington's swamp continue to rise: Chuck Schumer wrote the art of the steal by taking hurricane relief hostage to guarantee a December showdown that favors Democratic spending priorities," Sasse said.

    In the meeting with Republican and Democratic leaders on Wednesday, Trump also suggested doing away with the debt ceiling entirely.

    "It complicates things. It's really not necessary because you're talking about budget, so it's really not necessary," Trump said Thursday.

    'Harvey' the Hurricane Hawk Ready for Release in Plano

    [DFW] 'Harvey' the Hurricane Hawk Ready for Release in Plano

    Harvey, a Houston-area hawk who became a viral sensation during Hurricane Harvey a few weeks ago, is in North Texas, getting ready for her release.

    (Published Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017)

    Pelosi and Schumer indicated that it was an issue they would discuss with their respective rank and file.

    NBC 5 and Kroger are teaming up to get help with the relief effort for the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. Visit your neighborhood Kroger and make a monetary donation to the American Red Cross at Kroger's check-out registers. All of the money will go to the Red Cross Disaster Relief. The American Red Cross is working around the clock to help those in need by providing food, shelter and emotional support for the people whose lives have been disrupted. Visit RedCross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS for more information on the relief efforts.

     

    Other ways to help the victims of Hurricane/TS Harvey:

     

    DONATE MONEY

    The Salvation Army is also accepting financial donations. Salvation Army 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769) HelpSalvArmy.org

     

    DONATE BLOOD
    Carter BloodCare will send blood donations to its partners affected by Hurricane Harvey. 1-877-571-1000. Text DONATE4LIFE to 444-999

     

    HELP PETS
    SPCA of Texas is expecting 300 cats and dogs to come to North Texas. The agendy is asking for donations of cat litter, litter boxes, towels, blankets, treats, toys and newspaper. Donations can be dropped off at the following two locations: SPCA of Texas Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center at 2400 Lone Star Drive in Dallas and the SPCA of Texas at 8411 Stacy Road in McKinney. Monetary donations can be made online at SPCA.org/gift