Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is fuming about the Lone Star congressional delegation. "Get a spine!" That's his message to Texas' elected representatives on Capitol Hill, as the U.S. House gets set to vote on a hurricane relief package.
In an interview with The Houston Chronicle, Abbott said the Texas delegation risks being "rolled" by their colleagues in a new $36.5 billion disaster plan. In addition to funding for cash-strapped Puerto Rico, the measure includes money to support the financially troubled federal flood insurance program.
The Chronicle's Mike Ward says the governor and other Texas officials expected that $18 billion, around half, of the disaster ad package would go to the Lone Star State. The expectation was the money would be available immediately, and could be spent on projects that have already been approved.
"Theoretically, some of the [$36.5 billion] could come to Texas," Ward says, "but who knows when? It also could go to a lot of the other states that are doing hurricane recovery at this point, including Puerto Rico … [It could] also go to California for their wildfires."
Ward says Abbott wants Texas' U.S. House members to vote against the current plan. Texas lawmakers and the GOP leadership aren't happy with the governor. Meanwhile, Abbott is taking his case to the White House.
"The governor said he was going to call the president yesterday, and talk to him, or some of his people about getting some earmark in that bill," Ward says. "Whether that can happen, I don't know."
Even if the current bill passes, which Ward says is likely, Texans might see some benefit from money earmarked for the underfunded federal flood insurance program. But Ward says that chunk of the money, or some part of it, could be used to pay off the program's existing debt.
Ward says a big part of Abbott's beef with the current House bill is that money that could come to Texas wouldn't come immediately. On the other hand, Abbott has opposed dipping into the state's ironically-named Rainy Day Fund to help Harvey's victims.
"That's where the political theater comes in," Ward says. "The differences between Washington and Austin have been there for a long time, and this is another example of how Texans don't feel they're getting their way, and so they're arguing with D.C."
Written by Shelly Brisbin.