Mnuchin: Congress Should Tie Harvey Aid to a Federal Debt Limit Increase

September 3, 2017

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Sunday that Congress should tie Hurricane Harvey aid to an increase in the federal debt limit.

"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace cited the concerns of Rep. Mark Meadows (R., N.C.), a member of the fiscally conservative House Freedom Caucus who does not want disaster aid tied to a bill that raises the debt limit.

"Can you guarantee him and others that that won't happen?" Wallace asked.

"No, I can't," Mnuchin said. "Quite the contrary; the president and I believe that it should be tied to the Harvey funding, that our first priority is to make sure that the state gets money. It is critical and to do that, we need to make sure we raise the debt limit."

Mnuchin went on to say that if Congress appropriates the money, but the treasury doesn't have the ability to borrow more money to pay for it, then the funs will not actually be available for Texas.

"We need to put politics aside and we're going to be urging Congress to get both of those things done as quickly as they can," Mnuchin said.

Meadows and other members of the House Freedom Caucus have vocally voiced their opposition to tying Harvey aid and the debt ceiling because it sends the "wrong message," the Washington Post reported.

"The Harvey relief would pass on its own, and to use that as a vehicle to get people to vote for a debt ceiling is not appropriate," Meadows said in an interview.

"That sends all the wrong message: ‘Let’s go ahead and increase the debt ceiling, and by the way, while we’re doing it let’s go ahead and spend another $15, $20 billion?’ That’s not to undercut the importance of Harvey relief. We’re going to fund Harvey relief without a doubt, but I think it just sends the wrong message when you start attaching it to the debt ceiling," he continued.

Mnuchin told Congress in July that it will have to raise the debt limit by the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 29, otherwise the U.S. government wouldn't have enough money to pay the bills. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, however, Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday that the deadline could move up a few days.

"We obviously have now the hurricane spending, which is an issue. So that’s going to have some impact on our September spending," Mnuchin said.