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White House responds after lawmakers say $100 billion isn’t enough for disaster relief

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Lawmakers are criticizing a $44 billion disaster aid request from the White House to Congress as too small, but administration officials would like to see some budget cuts to offset some of the expenditures.

President Trump’s third request, issued on Friday, brings the total funds allocated for disaster relief from hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria to almost $100 billion even before money to rebuild Puerto Rico is factored in.

(AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

The administration wants to add $12 billion for flood mitigation and another $24 billion to the chief disaster account. Other funds will go toward small business loans and farmers facing crop losses from the hurricanes.

However, officials including Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello and Texas Governor Greg Abbott are pressing for much more, and many expect more to be added as the measure goes through Congress.

“This request does not come close to what local officials say is needed,” New York Rep. Nita Lowey told the Washington Times.

Texas Senator John Cornyn has already called the measure “wholly inadequate” and has been reportedly working behind the scenes with the White House to get the numbers up.

However, given out of control budget deficits and a coming tax cut, the administration would like to see some spending cuts as well.

According to the New York Times:

The latest disaster request seemed to indicate that deficit concerns may be rising, at least in the White House. Administration officials laid out a menu of options for budget cutting, totaling $59 billion, from small nicks like $8 million from a rural energy program to far larger options, such as $3.9 billion from student financial aid and $1 billion from transportation infrastructure funds.

Some of those proposals were sure to raise eyebrows. To pay for hurricane reconstruction, the White House suggested cutting nearly $520 million from the Army Corps of Engineers’ flood control and coastal emergencies account, which the White House identified as excess money from Hurricane Sandy relief.

But those suggestions were hardly strenuous: The president’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, wrote that “the administration believes it is prudent to offset new spending.”

Surely that’s not too much to ask.

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Scott Morefield

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