President Trump pledged swift federal aid to Texas and Louisiana on Monday as the two states seek to recover from Hurricane Harvey, and dismissed the notion that his threatened shutdown of the government over border wall funding could impact the effort.
Trump said those hit by the “epic” disaster would see “very rapid action from Congress, certainly from the president. … I think that Congress will feel very much the way I feel.”
Trump promised the relief package coming from Congress during a joint White House news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.
Before taking questions, Trump praised the work of first responders and said the reaction to the storm showed “we are one American family.”
“Every asset at my command is at the disposal of local officials,” Trump said. “Recovery will be a long and difficult road, and the federal government stands ready, willing and able to assist in that effort.”
Trump is scheduled to visit Texas on Tuesday and said he would probably return to the state Saturday and make a stop as well as in Louisiana, which could also experience massive flooding from Harvey.
Trump, who has been feuding with members of both parties in Congress, suggested that would not be a factor in crafting a relief package. He also played down concerns that recovery efforts could be hampered if he follows through with a threat to allow a partial government shutdown next month if Congress doesn’t provide money he is seeking for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
“I think it has nothing to do with it,” Trump said. “I think this is separate. This is going to go really, very, very quickly.”
Later, Trump reiterated his position that Mexico should ultimately pay for the border wall, even if Congress provides the initial funding and the United States is later reimbursed.
“One way or the other, Mexico is going to pay for the wall,” Trump said.
He again suggested a possible termination of the American Free Trade Agreement, saying Mexico has been very difficult in trying to craft a better deal for the United States.