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Political Firestorm Between Texas Republicans Over Harvey Relief Aid

DALLAS (CBS11) - Harsh words from Texas Governor Greg Abbott about the state's Congressional delegation created a political firestorm.

A source tells CBS11, Governor Abbott felt let down by Texas Republicans in the House for a lack of leadership and for not fighting hard enough for Harvey relief.

Texas Governor Abbott Holds News Conference To Update On Hurricane Harvey
AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 01: Texas Governor Greg Abbott delivers a briefing to the public on Hurricane Harvey at the Texas Department of Public Safety building on September 1, 2017 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)

The Governor told the Houston Chronicle Wednesday that the Texas delegation in the House of Representatives needed a "stiff spine" and that "It appears the Texas delegation will let themselves be rolled by the House of Representatives."

SMU Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson says it's not just the words, but the man who said them that has surprised many. "This was the very measured, very mainstream Governor Abbott, for him to say this, that's going to get people's attention."

Just last week, Governor Abbott, along with Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and 33 of the 36 Texas House members signed a letter asking Congressional committees for nearly $19 billion in aid specifically for Harvey relief in Texas.

But that money wasn't in the $36 billion dollar bill approved by the House Thursday for FEMA.

That bill will include funding for the National Flood Insurance Program and the Disaster Relief Fund, and Texans will be eligible to receive some of that aid.

On Wednesday night, CBS11 learned the Governor's comments led White House staff to call the Governor's Office.

Governor Abbott also received assurances from House Speaker Paul Ryan and his top deputies that Texas will get its money.

In a statement Thursday, the Governor's Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director Matt Hirsch said, "Governor Abbott was assured by House leadership that as soon as November, Texas will get the disaster assistance funding we're requesting. The Governor will hold

House leadership to that promise on behalf of Texans whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Harvey."

Professor Wilson says Abbott has a lot of political clout.

"He is the Governor of the second largest state in America and the largest Republican state in America, which means something when government in Washington is controlled entirely by Republicans."

We've learned Senator Cornyn and Governor Abbott spoke about the issue, but Senator Cornyn declined comment for our story.

No one from Senator Cruz's office returned our email.

We requested interviews of some Texas House Republicans, but we didn't hear back Thursday.

Paige Cane, a single mother of 4 children who lost everything in Harvey, says she and her family are still in the process of finding a new place to live in Dallas. "I'm just pushing forward, trying to do the best I can."

She says there is nothing to return to in Port Arthur, and so help from FEMA is crucial to her and others.

"I feel like they need to be more organized because there's a lot more people who didn't get approved for assistance that really need assistance."

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