>> We have many, many things that are on the plate.>> President Trump striking a rare deal with Democrats on Wednesday. Agreeing to a package combining billions of dollars in hurricane relief with measures to avoid a debt default and a government shutdown. Trump aiming to keep the gears turning through December, but setting up a potential conflict with his own Republicans.
I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington, where lawmakers are trying to quickly get disaster aid flowing as Texas and Louisiana recover from one vicious hurricane, and Puerto Rico and Florida brace for another. The urgency all too real for the many thousands flooded out of their homes, but in Congress nothing is never easy.
Democrats and Republican leaders wanna tie that money to an increase the nation's borrowing authority. But GOP conservatives don't wanna sign off on anything that increases the national debt. Lawmakers in the House moving quickly, voting 419 to 3 to approve nearly $8 billion in assistance. The disaster aid a small fraction of what will be needed.
The total bill likely to top $150 billion. Hurricane Irma sure to add to that bill. The most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded already raking Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands and expected to hit Florida on Saturday. But Democrats saying their support comes at a price. Convincing Trump, at a White House meeting, to combine that money with measures that would raise the debt ceiling and extend government funding through the middle of December.
Trump going against Republican leaders who wanted a larger debt ceiling increase to make sure lawmakers won't have to vote again on the politically painful issue before the 2018 congressional election. Also crossing rank and file conservatives, his most loyal supporters in Congress.>> His feeling was that we needed to come together to not create a picture of divisiveness at a time of genuine national crisis.
>> Trump buying some breathing room to focus not only on disaster aid, but also tax reform, one of his top agenda items. In the process though, further straining relations with his fellow Republicans. All this likely to come to a head in the Senate. Democrats have more leverage in that chamber, so they're unlikely to pass any sort of Harvey aid without a debt ceiling increase attached.
Lawmakers from both parties eager to avoid gridlock, but still arguing over the details. As storm clouds gather in the Caribbean, Capitol Hill bracing for heavy weather, as well.