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Top House conservative warns against attaching Harvey aid to debt ceiling

The chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee in the House is warning against tying a Hurricane Harvey aid measure to legislation that would raise the debt ceiling.

"What happened in Texas is a tragedy and it needs an urgent Congressional response. Congress is united behind this effort, but I worry about jeopardizing an agreement with such legislative games," said Rep. Mark Walker, R-North Carolina, in a statement Monday. "Our obligation is to assist those impacted by this great flood, but it's past time the swamp waters in DC begin receding as well. That starts with being both compassionate and fiscally responsible."

Walker said that the debt ceiling should be "paired with significant fiscal and structural reforms."

"The alarming trajectory of our debt imperils all supplemental appropriations for dealing with disasters like Harvey in the future. If we resort to just kicking the can down the road on the debt, it only shows that Republicans do not take the problem of our $20 trillion debt seriously," he added.

He also said that Republicans, who now control Congress and the White House, have "no excuse" to not pass spending reforms. The 60-vote filibuster in the Senate, however, will require Republicans to rely on Democratic votes to pass both measures.

Walker's statement comes a day after Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that Congress should attach the $7.9 billion relief package for Harvey to a debt limit hike.

"The president and I believe that it should be tied to the Harvey funding. Our first priority is to make sure that the state gets money," he said on "Fox News Sunday." "It is critical, and to do that, we need to make sure we raise the debt limit."

The House Appropriations Committee released a $7.85 billion bill Sunday, which includes $7.4 billion for FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund and $450 million to to support the Small Business Administration's disaster loan program.

Congress must raise the debt ceiling by Sept. 28 to prevent a default on the nation's debt and pass a government spending package to prevent a shutdown by Sept. 30. 

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