Some money for Hurricane Harvey recovery projects in Texas could be designated before Thanksgiving, Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday after a day of meetings with federal officials in Washington, D.C.
Abbott, during a telephone conference with reporters, said he had spoken with Mick Mulvaney, head of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and got a tentative timeline for the next round of aid.
Mulvaney would be working on a supplemental budget request to submit to Congress in two weeks, Abbott said. It could be received by Congress as soon as Nov. 15.
“We demonstrated a need for speed,” Abbott said.
Abbott went to Washington this week with other officials to present a $61 billion proposal for aid projects. The 300-page document outlines dozens of projects that could be supported by federal money, including a $12 billion coastal barrier across the mouth of Galveston Bay, and $230 million in various infrastructure and house buyout programs across Galveston County.
“These are the items that we’ve identified up to this point that need funding,” Abbott said. “There could be other projects that need to be added to this. It is not a closed book.”
Abbott said he also met with Texas’ Congressional delegation about the plans.
Texas received $15 billion in hurricane relief in the weeks immediately after Harvey made landfall, and will receive a portion of a $36 billion relief package that Congress approved in October. The money in those bills was mostly tied to ongoing disaster response efforts, like those managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Flood Insurance Program.
The money Abbott is requesting now is tied to projects meant to rebuild infrastructure and to protect areas of Texas affected by Harvey from future storms.
Later in the day, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said that if Congress doesn’t move swiftly, hurricane recovery aid could be tied to a year-end omnibus bill and be put in more doubt.
If the Texas aid is tied to the omnibus bill, which is meant to fund the federal government and keep it operating, the recovery package could “collapse under its own weight,” Cornyn said, according to CNN.
Abbott said he would be back in Washington on Nov. 13 to stump for more support for Texas. That trip coincides with a planned fundraiser for Abbott that is supposed to be headlined by Vice President Mike Pence.