The chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee on Monday expressed concerns that an agreement on aid to areas affected by Hurricane Harvey would be put at risk if it is paired with a debt-limit increase.
“What happened in Texas is a tragedy and it needs an urgent Congressional response,” Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) said in a statement. “Congress is united behind this effort, but I worry about jeopardizing an agreement with such legislative games.
“Our obligation is to assist those impacted by this great flood, but it’s past time the swamp waters in DC begin receding as well,” Walker added. “That starts with being both compassionate and fiscally responsible. These two principles are not at odds.”
Walker’s comments come after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that Harvey aid and a debt-ceiling increase should be packaged together. The debt limit needs to be raised by Sept. 29.
“The president and I believe that it should be tied to the Harvey funding, that our first priority is to make sure that the state gets money,” Mnuchin said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “It is critical and to do that we need to make sure we raise the debt limit.”
But Walker said that a debt-limit increase needs to be linked to spending reforms — an idea long supported by conservatives.
“The alarming trajectory of our debt imperils all supplemental appropriations for dealing with disasters like Harvey in the future,” he said. “If we resort to just kicking the can down the road on the debt, it only shows that Republicans do not take the problem of our $20 trillion debt seriously.”
Walker’s statement is in line with comments House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) made to the Washington Post last week. Meadows said that linking Harvey aid and the debt ceiling is “not appropriate.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Sunday that Republicans and Democrats should work together to address Harvey aid and the debt ceiling.
“Providing aid in the wake of Harvey and raising the debt ceiling are both important issues, and Democrats want to work to do both,” they said. “Given the interplay between all the issues Congress must tackle in September, Democrats and Republicans must discuss all the issues together and come up with a bipartisan consensus.”