With the two devastating hurricanes that have ripped through Texas and Florida over the past two weeks, Washington D.C. is dealing with a number of issues regarding relief and the nation’s debt limit.
Last Wednesday, President Trump surprised Republicans by passing a Democrat-proposed deal to fund the U.S. government and raise the debt ceiling by three months, while providing emergency funding for Hurricane Harvey.
Illinois’ 18th district Congressman Darin LaHood joined WLDS’ AM Conversation today to discuss these issues and more. LaHood says that while the bill passed last week, he believes there will be more to come from th e situation.
“We’re trying to make sure that we do all that we can at the federal level to assist them. We’ve had a debate on the amount of money that the federal government should be responsible for, and I think we’ve learned from Katrina and Sandy on how to best get aid to people and make sure we help the people that need it the most, so that’s what we’ll continue to work on in Washington D.C. We passed a bill last week that the President signed, but I think there’s going to be more need there, and making sure that we’re doing all we can with our federal agencies and helping people get back on their feet,” says LaHood.
LaHood explains that he thinks raising the debt limit and providing hurricane relief should be separate, despite the two being attached in last week’s bill.
“I think it should be (separate). It wasn’t last week, unfortunately the bill we voted on they attached it. But I think that raising the debt ceiling and doing a continuing resolution should be separate, and figuring out how we get our fiscal house in order instead of passing three-month debt ceiling continuation, or a three-month continuing resolution, unfortunately they got tied together, that’s the direction the President went, but it passed. I voted against that because I don’t think you can legislate three months at a time, I think you’ve got to have a long-term plan on how we reduce our deficit which is at close to $22 trillion now after all these relief efforts and the money we’re spending on that. I think we need to have a separate conversation on how we bring that down, and frankly we haven’t been able to do that because we tied it to the hurricane relief,” says LaHood.
Congressman LaHood says there are lessons the federal government can take from its handling of previous natural disasters.
“We tend to legislate by crisis when it comes to these events, and the only mechanisms that are in place when you have two natural disasters like we just did is for the federal government to come in and, I don’t want to use the words ‘bail you out,’ but in a way, we’re the only backstop to doing that. We ought to think long-term about either kind of a rainy day fund or a disaster fund that we put in place, instead of ‘oh we have a disaster, we have to throw $20 billion or $30 billion at it and help it out,'” explains LaHood.
Congressman Rodney Davis of Illinois’ 13th Congressional District voiced his support of raising the debt ceiling. To hear more from Congressman LaHood, you can check out our full interview with him online at WLDS/WEAI.com.