While President Donald Trump has pledged to provide all of the necessary federal relief to help citizens recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, House Republicans are currently on track to pass a 2018 spending bill that would divert nearly $1 billion from disaster relief to help pay for the president's proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump stated during a Aug. 28 White House press conference that his administration would urge Congress to swiftly provide financial aid to both Louisiana and Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
"The real number, which will be many billions of dollars, will go through Congress," Trump said, according to Bloomberg. "It will happen very quickly."
Congress is scheduled to return from recess on Sept. 5 and will be in session for 12 legislative days before November. Currently, House Republicans are considering a spending bill for the 2018 fiscal year that would cut $876 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief account and pour that funding into a down payment for Trump's proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, The Associated Press reports.
The cut to FEMA disaster relief would approximately amount to half of the Trump administration's desired down payment for the border wall. If Congress does not pass a 2018 spending bill by Sept. 30, the government will shut down.
On Aug. 22, Trump indicated during a campaign rally in Phoenix that he would veto any 2018 spending bill that did not include funding for his border wall.
"Build that wall ... believe me, if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall," Trump said, according to Time. The president added that Democratic lawmakers who opposed funding the wall "are putting all of America's safety at risk."
On Aug. 26, Hurricane Harvey began to unleash record-breaking rain in Houston, Texas. As of Aug. 30, city officials estimated that between 20 to 30 people had died and that up to 40,000 homes had been damaged by flooding, according to The Guardian.
The National Hurricane Center issued an advisory that Hurricane Harvey's "catastrophic and life-threatening flooding continues in south-eastern Texas and portions of south-western Louisiana."
On Aug. 29, disaster modeler Chuck Watson of Enki Research estimated that it would cost up to $42 billion to repair the damage inflicted by the tropical storm. Currently, FEMA only has $2.3 billion in its federal disaster relief account.
Trump is scheduled to meet with congressional leaders and discuss the 2018 spending bill on Sept. 6.