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House sends £11bn Harvey aid bill and debt hike to Donald Trump

The US House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to send a 15.3 billion dollar (£11.6 billion) disaster aid package to Donald Trump.

The move overcomes conservative objections to linking the emergency legislation to a temporary increase in America's borrowing authority, and also keeps the government funded until December.

The 316-90 vote would refill depleted emergency accounts as Florida braces for the impact of Hurricane Irma this weekend and Texas picks up the pieces after the devastation of Storm Harvey.

It is the first instalment of a federal aid package that could rival or exceed the 110 billion dollars (£83 billion) federal response after Hurricane Katrina, though future instalments are likely to be more difficult to pass.

It also postpones budget decisions until December and forces another politically difficult debt limit vote next year.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, a former congressman who took a hard line against debt increases during his years in the House, and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin pitched the measure to House Republicans at a closed-door meeting just before the vote.

They were given a hard time from some Republicans upset at being forced to choose between voting for disaster aid and the debt limit increase.

Mr Mnuchin elicited hisses when he told the meeting, "Vote for the debt ceiling for me," said Representative Mark Walker.

Mr Trump stunned Republicans by cutting a deal with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to increase the debt limit for three months, rather than the long-term approach preferred by Republican leaders that would have got the issue fixed until next year's mid-term elections.

Conservatives disliked both options. Voting on the debt limit is politically toxic for Republicans, and the deal will make the GOP vote twice ahead of next year's midterm elections.


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