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Trump Requests $7.8 Billion From Congress For Harvey Relief

02/09/2017 2:15 PM AEST | Updated 06/09/2017 2:19 AM AEST
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Residents make their way out of a flooded neighborhood in Houston on Monday. President Donald Trump has officially requested Congress approve $7.85 billion for relief efforts in Texas and Louisiana.

President Donald Trump officially submitted a request to Congress for an initial $7.85 billion in emergency funding for Harvey relief efforts in Texas and Louisiana late Friday night.

The request, sent in a letter signed by White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, includes giving $7.4 billion to supplement the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund and $450 million to finance a disaster loan program for small businesses affected by the devastating storm.

Earlier this week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state would need “far more than $125 billion” in federal funding to help the state recover from the massive flooding in Houston and surrounding areas.

NBC News reporter Frank Thorp obtained a copy of Mulvaney’s letter and shared it Friday night on Twitter.

Earlier Friday, Trump was expected to request nearly $6 billion in immediate aid, followed by another request for $6 billion, according to The New York Times.

Friday’s letter, addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), said that the requested amount of $7.8 billion “would enable the affected States to address disaster response and immediate recovery needs in the areas most affected by Hurricane Harvey,” including “life-saving response and recovery missions” and “addressing housing repair costs unmet by insurance; and provide low-interest loans to businesses and homeowners.”

As Mulvaney noted in the letter, the request is a down payment on “Trump’s commitment” to recovery efforts, adding that future requests “will address longer-term rebuilding needs.”

Mulvaney also warned that relief efforts in areas hit by Harvey could be affected if Congress does not increase the federal budget’s debt ceiling.

“Indeed, if the debt ceiling is not raised, it may not be possible to outlay the requested supplemental appropriations or funds for other critical Government operations,” the letter reads.

Without disclosing how much in total the Trump administration would request in funding, White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert told reporters on Thursday that there is a possibility that the administration may need more than the $120 billion that was appropriated for the destruction caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, according to The Washington Post.

Bossert also said Thursday that the initial request would be followed by larger funding packages as the extent of the damage is assessed.

After Mulvaney’s letter was made public, Ryan tweeted Friday night saying that the “House will act quickly on [the president’s] request for emergency relief funding.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also tweeted in response to Trump’s request for funding, saying that the Senate was ready to “act quickly.”

In its own analysis of satellite imagery and property data, Reuters estimated that there is at least $23 billion worth of property damage in the southeast Texas counties of Harris and Galveston.

CoreLogic, a property analytics firm, predicted that 70 percent of home damage will not be covered by home insurance.

There are currently 32,523 evacuees in shelters in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Friday report.

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