House Speaker Paul Ryan joined a bipartisan delegation of lawmakers Thursday to help remove debris at a in Friendswood, Texas home damaged by Hurricane Harvey and vowed that Congress will take up legislation next month to get help to those impacted by recent natural disasters.
The Wisconsin Republican said the purpose of his visit was to show “that the recovery efforts are well on their way and there will not be any kind of delay with respect to the federal government.”
He said that there was no official request from the Trump administration for additional assistance, but added: “I anticipate there will be more than one piece of legislation moving through Congress but right now it’s the short term emergency needs and we are waiting to hear from the administration because they are totaling up what’s going on in Florida, in Texas.”
“We’ll see what’s the story in Puerto Rico, then we will get a request from the administration and then we will act on that request,” he added, saying he expected a vote sometime in October.
The number two Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, said “it’s about the short-term, midterm and long-term.” He said the US Army Corps of Engineers is working on a plan for the area damaged by Harvey in Texas to “deal with the future prospects of a hurricane coming up the ship channel and wreaking further havoc and devastation.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said that the upcoming funding package would be “substantially more” than the initial $15 billion already authorized for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, calling that a “down payment.”
Cruz joked that those at the event on Thursday had witnessed “a miracle — members of Congress doing actual work.”
The trip to Texas comes a day after Ryan visited to Florida, which is in its own recovery mode after Hurricane Irma struck the region just days after Harvey. The trip also comes a day after Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, cutting off electricity to the entire island.
Also joining the delegation Thursday were House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, a New Jersey Republican, and nine representatives from the Texas congressional delegation including Democratic Reps. Sheila Jackson-Lee and Gene Green. The visit comes nearly two weeks after President Donald Trump signed a measure allocating emergency hurricane relief funding in response to both Harvey and Irma.
On Wednesday, Ryan toured Jacksonville and parts of southern Florida that were hit by Irma, with Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Carlos Curbelo, both Republicans.
Earlier this month, Congress approved and Trump signed into law a package of bills that would send $22 billion for FEMA’s disaster relief fund in a deal that also lifted the debt ceiling and kept the federal government funded through September. Ninety representatives and 17 senators, all Republicans, opposed the legislation, some citing the fact that the legislation was part of a deal struck by Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Republican leaders had sought a debt limit increase for as long as 18 months.
Trump, who pledged to donate $1 million of his own money toward Harvey relief, visited the flood-ravaged Houston area twice last month and Florida last week.