Republicans in Congress are reportedly moving to slash funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency just as FEMA goes to work rebuilding Houston and the Texas coast from Hurricane Harvey.
Searching to pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico, Republicans in the House are preparing to cut about $876 million out of FEMA’s total budget of $13.9 billion, the Associated Press reports. The money cut from FEMA would cover about half of Trump’s “down payment” for the wall, according to the AP.
It’s too early to know exactly how Congress will react to Hurricane Harvey. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Trump have promised to send Texas officials an aid package worth billions of dollars — meanwhile, nobody seems to know how funding will work out in a bill to avert a looming government shutdown.
Some experts suspect that Trump and congressional Republicans’ brinkmanship over securing funding for the wall will be sidelined amid the push to help Harvey. “I expect they will back off of the discussion about the debt limit or tying the shut down to the wall,” William Hoagland, a former GOP staff director for the Senate Budget Committee, told me. “I think that takes a real backseat to the situation [in Houston] ... The big picture is that this will put pressure on Congress and the president to make sure that the government does not shut down first of all, and that assistance continues.”
Trump, for his part, has spent the past several months vowing to shut down the government without funding for his border wall. And that funding could be drawn from the budget for something else. So FEMA cuts could be on the table.