Mnuchin says hurricane relief aid should be tied to raising debt limit

FEB. 13 2017 FILE

Mnuchin said that people need to cut off North Korea economically and did not rule out the possibility of implementing stronger regulations on Chinese companies and financial institutions doing business with the North. "It is critical. And to do that, we need to make sure we raise the debt limit".

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is calling on Congress to combine a $7.9 billion disaster relief package for Harvey with a contentious increase in the nation's debt limit.

During an interview on "Fox News Sunday", Mnuchin was asked whether he can guarantee that disaster aid for Harvey would not be tied to a bill to raise the debt limit. There's talk that the House is going to take up, that's nearly a billion dollars in disaster relief this next week.

The U.S. government has a statutory limit on how much money it can borrow to cover the budget deficit that results from Washington spending more than it collects in taxes. We need to make sure that we can get to Texas the appropriate amount of money to rebuild the state.

Goldman Sachs, an American financial services company, estimated that failure to raise the ceiling would force a government spending cut equal to between 3 and 4 percent of United States gross domestic product, which would have crippling economic consequences.

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Outside of Harvey, Mnuchin told Wallace he was drafting a sanctions package regarding North Korea amid news that the country had detonated a hydrogen bomb as part of its sixth nuclear test. "At this point, we need to put politics aside".

He added that Trump and his first objective right now is for the people of Texas.

Republican lawmakers, who control both houses of Congress, have traditionally resisted raising the debt ceiling, but linking the issue to Harvey aid could force their hand with people suffering and large areas of the fourth-largest USA city under water. "Given the interplay between all the issues Congress must tackle in September, Democrats and Republicans must discuss all the issues together and come up with a bipartisan consensus", House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement.

He also suggested the White House wasn't overly concerned about whether the plan includes ways to offset the loss of federal revenue from the tax cuts. "We're going to fund Harvey relief without a doubt, but I think it just sends the wrong message when you start attaching it to the debt ceiling", he continued. "But we'll be working with them on that".

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