By the time the rains let up, Hurricane Harvey will have dumped three times as much water on the Houston area as Hurricane Katrina dropped on New Orleans — 25 trillion gallons or more.
The flooding is catastrophic, turning millions of people out of their homes and destroying places of work. The city and the surrounding areas are devastated, and they are desperate for relief from the federal government.
But instead of pledging to give Texas the help it needs outright, Donald Trump is still threatening to veto funding bills that don’t include money for his wall — meaning that Congress faces a fight in trying to get money to Harvey victims. And if Congress waits too long, Trump might shut down the government before the relief effort is funded.
We can’t afford to have Congress fold to Trump. Our representatives need to pass an emergency relief bill — without money for the wall — to ensure that help gets to those suffering from Hurricane Harvey.
It is just disgusting to imagine a president who is willing to use the threat of a shutdown in the middle of a humanitarian disaster in order to score a political win. But we are not dealing with a typical president.
Trump was asked twice by the Dallas Morning News if he would back off his threat to shut down the government now that the Hurricane Harvey tragedy has occurred — and he refused. Instead, he gave a campaign-rally-type speech in Houston, wearing merchandise he is selling on his website, and calling Harvey “epic” and “historic.”
But what Texans are experiencing is not “epic” — it’s a catastrophe. And they need their government’s help.
Already, Working Families Party members have generously donated more than $30,000 toward relief and rebuilding efforts. But inevitably, the news cycle will end, and so private donations will slow down. The only way to rebuild after a hurricane such as this one is with a long-term federal investment. And that investment cannot depend on funding for Trump’s racist border wall.
In fact, Hurricane Harvey shows just how much we need good relations with Mexico. The country has already extended an offer of assistance for Texas, just as it provided after Hurricane Katrina. But instead of gratefully taking Mexico up on its offer, Trump continues to talk about building a wall between our countries. It’s atrocious and disastrously shortsighted.
That’s why we need to rely on Congress to pass a clean funding bill to help Texas and keep the government open. We cannot look to our president for leadership in rescuing the millions affected by Harvey, and so we must look inward instead. The Working Families Party is going to put pressure on Congress to quickly pass a hurricane relief bill as soon as they return from recess next week.