Texas delegation will pursue billions in recovery aid from D.C.

From left, Ted Cruz, John Cornyn and Roger Williams (KXAN Photo)
From left, Ted Cruz, John Cornyn and Roger Williams (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — President Donald Trump was in Austin Tuesday for around two hours to get briefed by state leaders on the response to Hurricane Harvey.

The top leaders are here from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, FEMA and the Small Business Administration.

This is your tax dollars at work, the federal government really doesn’t help much with the emergency response to disasters, as that’s left up to local and state workers.

What the feds do afterwards is come in with the checkbooks to help rebuild — most of it is through FEMA. But all this recovery money adds up and FEMA doesn’t have it.

It has a bank account of just more than $3 billion right now. That won’t be enough for the predicted 450,000 people that will apply for some type of aid after this storm is all said and done.

That’s why Congress will likely take up a bail out package when it returns next week, but that all can get very political when regional divides emerge.

For example, the $50 billion bailout package for the Northeast after Superstorm Sandy, Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn voted against it because they thought it wouldn’t be spent wisely.

Cruz, Cornyn, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, Congressman Michael McCaul and Congressman Roger Wiliams will spearhead an effort to get recovery money here in Texas.

They say they want a standalone recovery bill that will reach more than $50 billion. All but one Texas Republican voted against a similar measure for Hurricane Sandy.

That’s because other things were lumped into it: $150 million for Alaskan fisheries, $50 million to replant trees after wildfires and $12 billion dollars for a Housing and Urban Development block grant to handle any disaster from 2011 or 2012.

“It’s important to remember these supplemental appropriations are an exception,” Cornyn said. “It’s not the normal way Congress appropriates money and there was always an opportunity to come back behind that as that money was depleted to do more.”

Senator Cornyn said this will go over $50 billion for Hurricane Harvey. It’s likely to be closer to Hurricane Katrina’s recovery bill, at $100 billion.

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