White House prepares $5.9B request to help Harvey recovery efforts
WASHINGTON -- The White House has prepared a request to Congress for an initial $5.9 billion package in, a first down payment to make sure recovery efforts over the next few weeks are adequately funded.
The Trump proposal, which is being finalized pending White House consultations with key Republicans, promises to represent just a fraction of an eventual Harvey recovery package that could rival the $100-billion-plus in taxpayer-financed help for victims of 2005's Hurricane Katrina.
The White House is seeking $5.5 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund. There is a $450 million request to the Small Business Administration Disaster Relief program.
A senior administration official said the plan will be sent to Congress on Friday and House and Senate votes appear likely next week. The official was not authorized to release the information publicly before a final decision is made and spoke on condition of anonymity.
House GOP leaders have signaled they are aiming to act fast on Harvey aid. Much larger future installments will be required but the initial package, to replenish Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster coffers through Sept. 30, shouldn't be controversial.
FEMA is spending existing disaster aid reserves -- just $2.1 billion as of Thursday -- at a high rate.
The initial aid money would be a down payment for immediate recovery efforts, to be followed by larger packages later, said White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert. It will take weeks or months to assess the full extent of the damage and need.
"We'll go up to Congress and give them a sound supplemental request number. We'll add to it," Bossert said. "And when we can a better handle on the damage we can come back with a responsible last, so to speak, supplemental request."
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