These GOP lawmakers voted against Harvey aid, debt limit extension

Four Texas Republicans on Friday voted against the bill that included aid for Hurricane Harvey recovery in their state, along with a debt limit extension.


The House approved the legislation 316-90, in a vote that authorized $15.3 billion in aid for those affected by Harvey, raised the debt ceiling, and extended government funding for three months into December. But a handful of those “no” votes came from members of the Texas delegation, and from members of the Florida delegation who will soon likely have to grapple with the need for funding for Hurricane Irma. No Democrats in the House voted against the legislation. The Senate approved the legislation in an 80-17 vote on Thursday.

The four Texas Republicans who voted no were Rep. Joe Barton, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, Rep. Sam Johnson, and Rep. Mac Thornberry, none of whose districts are in the region hardest hit by the storm. 

The Two Florida Republicans who voted against the legislation were Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Ted Yoho. 

Harvey’s damage may be the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, and the Texas governor has estimated the damage has reached $180 billion. 

Some of the Republicans who opposed the bill did so because they’re fiscally conservative, pointing to the national debt. Conservatives historically have qualms with raising the debt ceiling, which is a cap Congress sets on how much debt the U.S. Treasury can issue and determines how much money the federal government can borrow. 

“It’s like the Washington that Trump campaigned against,” Barton said, explaining his “no” vote. “So, as much as I want to help Texas, I can’t vote for something that just is a blank check on the debt.”

Hensarling said what happened in his state is truly an emergency, but so is the national debt.

Thornberry explained his vote with the following statement:

“Disaster assistance should be considered on its own – not to advance another agenda,” Thornberry said. “I voted on Wednesday for a clean emergency disaster funding bill for Hurricane Harvey that passed the House with overwhelming support. Those affected by disasters need help from Washington, they do not need more of the same political games.”

Gaertz said Congress found a new way to turn a disaster into more than $1 trillion in new spending. 

Yoho said the vote was a tough one.

“It’s a shame that lack of preparation leads you to a point where crisis dictates how you have to vote,” Yoho said ahead of the vote. 

Earlier in the week, Mr. Trump went around members of his own party to cut a deal with Democrats on the debt ceiling. Mr. Trump said he would be open to the idea of eliminating the debt ceiling entirely, which would allow the federal government to borrow money indefinitely. 


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