Schumer expects bipartisan support for Harvey relief bill

Sep 3, 2017

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-Brooklyn) said Congress has a lot on its plate when lawmakers return to Washington after their summer recess. Both the House and Senate will be acting on a continuing resolution for government spending, an extension of the debt limit and tax reform.

Senator Schumer tours Norsk Titanium plant in Plattsburgh Friday.
Credit Photo courtesy of Pat Bradley/WAMC

President Donald Trump is threatening a government shutdown if Congress does not include funding for his Mexican border wall. But Schumer said Hurricane Harvey has changed the dynamic. During an appearance in Plattsburgh on Friday, the New York Democrat said they will be voting on a relief bill.

"It is well known that Texas senators, including Ted Cruz, fought money for (Hurricane) Sandy (in 2012)," Schumer said. "We will not do that. America has a great tradition. When one part of the country has trouble, the rest of the country gets together and helps out. So, we're not going to play tit for tat."

Schumer said the hurricane relief bill will receive bi-partisan support. He said his heart goes out to the victims who were devastated by the massive flood.

Regarding the border wall, Schumer, who serves as the Senate's minority leader, questions its need.

"Most Democrats and many Republicans are opposed to the border wall," Schumer said "I know the President wants it. But even people who support the wall don't want to shut down the government for it. We're waiting to hear a plan (from the President) on how Mexico will pay for it."

New York Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) also said he expected that Congress will support the financial aid for Hurricane Harvey victims. 

Reed said it is too early to determine how much money will be needed to assist the nation's fourth-largest city, where the storm has devastated the area. But he says it could be a significant amount since Congress appropriated tens of billions of dollars after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the northeast.

"As we stood with the Sandy aid victims, we are going to stand with the families and individuals of Texas and make sure we come up with a package of what is clearly a need that our fellow American citizens need in this time of devastation," Reed said.

When Congress passed the aid package for Sandy victims, the majority of Texas' Congressional delegation opposed the effort.

On the debt ceiling issue, Reed said there is a chance it could become intertwined with hurricane aid, but he would prefer to keep the issues separate.

Thanks to WAMC and WSKG for providing audio.