News & Politics

Rep. Meadows Urges Harvey Relief Aid Not Be Tied to Debt Limit Bill

People push a stalled pickup through a flooded street in Houston, after Tropical Storm Harvey dumped heavy rains, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017. The remnants of Harvey sent devastating floods pouring into Houston on Sunday as rising water chased thousands of people to rooftops or higher ground. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, is urging his colleagues not to tie a relief bill for the victims of Hurricane Harvey to legislation that would raise the debt limit.

Nothing like holding victims of a natural disaster hostage by playing political games.

The Hill:

“The Harvey relief would pass on its own, and to use that as a vehicle to get people to vote for a debt ceiling is not appropriate,” he said an interview with The Washington Post, signaling agreement with Trump on the approach.

It would “send the wrong message” to add $15 to $20 billion of spending while increasing the debt ceiling, Meadows added.

Talk of combining legislation to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling picked up after it became obvious that Congress would need to take action to help communities stricken by Harvey’s rainfall. Much of the Houston area remains under water nearly a week after the storm hit.

Congress faces end-of-month deadlines to prevent a government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. Lumping the two measures together and then adding Harvey aid to the larger package would make it difficult for members to vote against it.

The Freedom Caucus has enough members to block legislation from passing the House if Democrats also vote against a package.

The conservative group has vehemently opposed a “clean” debt ceiling lift, demanding instead that any legislation that prevents the U.S. from a disastrous default should be linked to spending reforms.

Meadows earlier this week said he would not demand budgetary offsets to the Harvey aid package.

Many conservative Republicans, including Meadows, voted against relief aid for Hurricane Sandy in 2013 because the spending was not offset with cuts elsewhere.

Others claimed that one of the aid bills did not constitute emergency funding because the repair efforts were spread out over several years, or falsely said the provisions were unrelated to relief efforts at all.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the number two Republican in the Senate, said that work had begun on a supplemental appropriations bill to fund emergency aid.

I’ve got a great idea how the Freedom Caucus can initiate spending reforms. How about not voting for a $4 trillion budget? How about reforming your profligate ways? How about you act like adults and pretend that you’re responsible legislators and cut the damn budget so it will balance in a few years?

It’s so much easier to insist what a lion you are about cutting spending by insisting that unrelated and superfluous language be tied to legislation that will raise the debt limit on spending (overspending) that you’ve already voted for. If you don’t want to raise the debt limit, don’t vote for the damn spending in the first place. You make a mockery of governance by trying to torpedo spending money that you’ve already appropriated.

Congress is acting like a virgin who had sex, enjoyed it immensely, but now wants to be a virgin again. The only thing that is necessary and the only thing that will get us out of this budget mess is if representatives and senators on both sides of the aisle simply do their jobs.

No more holding the nation’s good faith and credit hostage by political drama queens. No more bypassing the law and approving “continuing resolutions” that simply add to the deficit and national debt.

There are hard decisions to make on how to spend the taxpayers’ money for both Republicans and Democrats — and if you’re not willing to make those choices, I suggest you let someone else give it a try.