GOP clashing over Harvey relief, debt limit

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Sunday that he would put together a package of new sanctions to potentially cut off all trade with North Korea after Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test.

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 past 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".

During a campaign event in Phoenix in August, President Donald Trump threatened a government shutdown if lawmakers did not approve funding to build his promised U.S. -Mexico border wall, but congressional Republican leaders have signaled that idea is a non-starter.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on CNN's "State of the Union" that $120 billion was needed to respond to Hurricane Katrina and he expects damage from Harvey will be greater.

Conservative GOP lawmakers strongly oppose attaching the legislation to any federal debt measure; they are pressing for spending cuts in exchange for their support of raising the borrowing ceiling. "We need Congress to step up and pass this and help Texas rebuild", he said. "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".

"This is something that we've never seen before, so it's going to require a pretty unprecedented response, " the Wisconsin Republican said. "The president and I believe that it should be tied to the Harvey funding".

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"Providing aid in the wake of Harvey and raising the debt ceiling are both important issues, and Democrats want to work to do both", they said. Then, when the new fiscal year begins on October 1, Congress must also have passed a measure to fund most operations of the federal government and avoid a shutdown.

Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas, but could bring some fiscal order to Washington where Republicans and Democrats will need to put political differences aside in order to approve spending to fix the damage from flooding in and around Houston.

Harvey funding itself is a bit of a political football. "So we need to put politics aside and we are going to be urging Congress to get both of those things done as quickly as they can".

At the same time, he said the drinking water is safe, the electric grid is mostly functional and airports and public transit systems are up and running. "The city of Houston is open for business", he said.

"Good to start thinking now about #HurricaneIrma plans", Sen.

"I think the president is right that Kim Jong Un and other bullies only understand and respect strength", Cruz said of Trump's rhetoric, noting that Pyongyang's latest launch "is a serious escalation in their ability to commit mass acts of murder".

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