US President Donald Trump has asked Congress to consider a request for a $7.9 billion down payment to cushion the effect of Hurricane Harvey. Lawmakers are expected to approve the request unanimously. The proposal if approved would add $7.4 billion to the disaster coffers of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and about $450 million for disaster loans for small size businesses crippled by Harvey.

GOP leaders hope to use the aid package to garner support for speedy passage of a highly contentious plan to increase the federal borrowing limit. A senior House Republican hinted that GOP lawmakers rejected objections from conservatives who maintained that funds for Harvey shouldn’t be paired with federal borrowing limit increase.

However, some senior GOP officials cautioned that a decision had not been made on the issue. Democrats, whose votes are desirable, have not yet signed off the measure.

Contentious debt limit

Congressional Republicans who are in support for the upward review of the debt limit, are pairing it with the Harvey disaster funds which make the controversial vote easier to scale through. Lawmakers must vote on September 29 to raise the government’s $19.9 trillion debt limit in order to allow the Trump administration to continue to borrow money to fund Social Security and other bills. Failure to increase the borrowing limit could force the government to a debt default.

Congress urged to act

Congress needs to act promptly to increase the government’s debt limit since the nation’s borrowing limit has actually been reached.

The Harvey aid package is unexpected expenses and raises the probability that lawmakers would have to act promptly to keep the government running.

The House is expected to pass the Hurricane Harvey aid bill separately; However, Republican leaders are suggesting that the Senate may attach the debt limit bill to it. If that succeeds in the Senate, the House would immediately vote again to forward it to President Trump.

The move is still being considered.

Mick Mulvaney, White House budget director, has asked Congress to fast-track the aid request, in a letter detailing the aid proposal. However, despite President Trump’s threat to shut down the government should Congress fail to fund his US-Mexico border wall, officials say the White House has relaxed the threat, and any argument about the border wall funding will be moved to later in the year.