White House Warns Next Disaster Bill to Cost ‘Tens of Billions’

By ANDREW TAYLOR | October 27, 2017

The White House says the next request for disaster aid will cost tens of billions of dollars and Congress should consider making cuts in other government programs to finance it.

In a letter to top lawmakers in Congress, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the next disaster aid request will be sent to Capitol Hill next month. “The request is likely to run to the several tens of billions of dollars, which means it may end up representing a larger share of federal spending than several federal departments,” Mulvaney wrote.

A trailer in Marathon, Florida, the most populated island in the Florida Keys, was destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Credit: Zak Bennett

The Senate on Tuesday sent President Donald Trump a $36.5 billion measure to aid Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico after devastating hurricanes as well as Western states hard hit by wildfires. It brought the total approved by Congress this fall to more than $50 billion, and more will be needed. States and Puerto Rico continue to assess the damage.

Mulvaney said spending cuts should be considered for upcoming aid measures aimed at long-term rebuilding needs.

“As we move toward the longer-term issue of rebuilding the impacted areas of our Nation, we believe that it is appropriate that the Congress consider reducing spending elsewhere in order to offset what will, again, be a significant amount of unbudgeted spending.”

Requiring disaster aid to be “offset,” however, could put pressure on lawmakers to be less generous with upcoming aid packages or slow their progress through Congress.

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