Political fights loom over cost of Harvey recovery


DATELINE — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott praised the federal response to Harvey on Monday, saying he’d spoken “on multiple occasions” to President Trump and members of his Cabinet. 

Several big political fights, however, are looming over the cost of recovery and rebuilding. 

Federal resources have already begun flooding into Texas: 2 million liters of water, 2 million meals and tens of thousands of tarps — all at the direction of FEMA Director Brock Long.

Early estimates for recovery and rebuilding are at $40 billion — and climbing. But FEMA’s coffers have dwindled to $3.8 billion.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration also proposed slashing FEMA’s budget by another 11 percent. 

“You’re gonna get your funding. It’s a terrible tragedy,” Mr. Trump said Monday during a joint news conference at the White House with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto. 

Mr. Trump made no mention of the proposed budget cuts.

“We’re dealing with Congress, as you know it’s going to be a very expansive situation. We want to take care of the people of Texas and Louisiana,” Mr. Trump said. 

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FEMA Director Brock Long at a new conference Monday.

CBS News

But Congress is already facing several other urgent deadlines when it returns next week. The nation’s borrowing limit must be raised, and the government funded by the end of September.

Mr. Trump has threatened a shutdown if he doesn’t get funding for a border wall.

“I hope that’s not necessary, if it’s necessary we’ll have to see,” Mr. Trump said Monday.

Now, some northern Republicans are calling out Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, who are pushing for more aid even though they opposed a $50 billion relief bill after Hurricane Sandy.

“The congressional members in Texas are hypocrites,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said. “And I said back in 2012 that they’d be proven to be hypocrites.”

Cruz defended that vote, from Houston.

“I didn’t think it was appropriate to engage in pork barrel spending where two-thirds of that bill was unrelated spending that had nothing to do with Sandy and was simply politicians wasting money,” he said. 

Flood victims’ claims is yet another financial flashpoint. The National Flood Insurance Program is currently running a $25 billion deficit and set to expire altogether in a month if Congress doesn’t act. 

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