U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said relief funding for hurricane-ravaged areas of Texas might be delayed if the U.S. Congress does not quickly increase the government's debt limits. "Quite the contrary; 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". That's even as he and other members of the Republican leadership have reiterated that they will undoubtedly raise the debt ceiling.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Sunday on NBC News' "Meet the Press" that "in the intel committee that I serve on, I think it doesn't disclose anything to say that in the previous year [North Korea] has probably been the No. 1 topic month after month - what was happening there, what are we going to do about it - and I hope the neighborhood understands how critical this is".
Although Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on ABC News' "This Week" that "the president speaks in ways I wouldn't speak", he said it "is his prerogative".
The Associated Press reported last week that Republican leaders were making plans to pair Harvey aid with an increase in the debt limit.
Some House conservatives have said directly pairing Harvey aid with an increase in the debt limit would be a "terrible idea" that sends the wrong message on overall government spending. Other senior GOP aides told the AP that no final decision had been made, and Democrats, whose votes would be needed in the Senate, have yet to signal support.More news: Opposition welcomes Kenya's Supreme Court ruling
More news: NASCAR playoffs: Standings, bubble drivers entering final regular-season race
More news: Merkel's challenger gets his one chance to shine in German election campaign
Mnuchin said if Congress appropriates the money, but he doesn't have the ability to borrow more money and pay for it, "we're not going to be able to get that money to the state".
About two weeks ago, Trump chided Senate leader Mitch McConnell and House speaker Paul Ryan for not linking it to a veterans' health care reform bill.
Republican leaders have promised that the debt ceiling will be raised in time. There's talk that the House is going to take up, that's nearly a billion dollars in disaster relief this next week. An additional $5 billion to $8 billion for Harvey could be tucked into a catch-all spending bill Congress must pass in the coming weeks to fund the government past September 30.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott estimated damage at $150 billion to $180 billion, calling it more costly than Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy, which devastated New Orleans in 2005 and NY in 2012. "We need Congress to step up and pass this and help Texas rebuild", he said.
He has purportedly backed off the threat in recent days, in the aftermath of deadly and destructive Harvey. Mnuchin said the plan is similar to the one presented in April, with the White House and Congress continuing to work out the "complicated details".