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Congressional Democrats back Harvey aid with three-month debt limit increase

07 September 2017

President Donald Trump cut a deal with Congressional leaders Wednesday that will raise the debt ceiling, keep the government open and funded and secure disaster relief dollars for Hurricane Harvey.

"Congress has an ability and an obligation to act, which is why we today are calling on Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell to immediately put the DREAM Act on the floor for a vote in the House and Senate", the New York Democrat said at a press conference Wednesday.

Mr Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One he had a "very good meeting" with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted a longer debt ceiling extension in order to ensure that they wouldn't be backed into a negotiating corner by Democrats later this year with the possibility of the U.S. defaulting on its debt and the government shutting down both hanging in the balance.

Asked whether he was surprised to see the president side with Democrats against his own party leadership, McConnell responded: "Look, the president can speak for himself, but his feeling was we needed to come together, not create a picture of divisiveness at a time of genuine national crisis, and that was the rationale".

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A separate aide, who was also briefed on the meeting, said Republican leaders pushed for an 18-month debt limit hike before floating six months.

Congress has to pass an emergency funding bill for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Louisiana and Texas and raise the debt ceiling.

Following the meeting, Trump and his team left for his speech in North Dakota on tax reform, an issue Republicans had hoped to work on this fall, and an issue that at least one aide said was made more hard by Trump's comments Thursday.

Republicans have always been anxious that Trump, who at times was a registered Democrat, would look to cut deals with the opposition party to secure victories - which he has had trouble achieving even with a Republican-led Congress.

The House vote is only the first step in the legislative process.

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The party in power - in this case Republicans - often argues for as long of a debt limit increase as possible for two reasons.

The House of Representatives approved almost $8 billion of initial emergency relief funds Wednesday for victims of Hurricane Harvey, a deadly storm that ravaged Houston, Texas, and other areas of the Gulf Coast region last week.

"The Pelosi-Schumer-Trump deal is bad", Sasse said. The House had already overwhelmingly approved a version of the Harvey relief bill with a 419-3 vote Wednesday. The bill also would authorize $450 million specifically for direct loans to help small businesses get back on their feet. Still, conservative groups like the Club for Growth oppose the initial package because it would add to the deficit.

Republican Mark Meadows of North Carolina, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said Trump "wasn't left with a lot of good options". The only thing Trump really wants from Democrats is funding for the wall, and he foolishly thinks that a big debt ceiling/shutdown showdown right before Christmas will increase his leverage to get it.

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Congressional Democrats back Harvey aid with three-month debt limit increase