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Harvey recovery could hit $180B, says Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Volunteer Paul Hancock pushes an oven damaged by

Volunteer Paul Hancock pushes an oven damaged by floodwaters onto a pile of debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, in Spring, Texas. Credit: AP

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott estimated Sunday that long-term recovery from Hurricane Harvey could cost as much as $180 billion and likened the $7.85 billion President Donald Trump has asked Congress to approve this week after a summer recess to a “down payment.”

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” host Dana Bash referenced the federal response to superstorm Sandy — at a cost of more than $50 billion — in asking Abbott if Trump’s request was enough for Harvey recovery.

“It will not be. However it’s very clear that the president has made it clear, Congress is making it clear, this is just a down payment,” Abbott said. “But let’s not compare it to Sandy. Let’s compare it to Katrina. Listen, the population size and the geographic size is far larger than Katrina and I think Sandy combined.”

The lessons of Hurricane Harvey reverberated on Sunday morning talk shows. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long, speaking on “Face the Nation,” called Harvey “a wake-up call” for states and municipalities in disaster zones.

“People cannot depend solely on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to, you know, be responsible for a majority,” Long said. “You know, states do a lot of work . . . But I think that we all have to collectively sit down after this event and figure out how to collectively improve.”

Meanwhile, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner encouraged tourism amid the recovery.

“The city of Houston is open for business,” Turner said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Turner said “anyone who was planning on a conference or convention or a sporting event or a concert coming to this city, you can still come. We want you to still come. We can do multiple things at the same time.”

In a joint statement Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged Congress to work together on Harvey funding, which will be negotiated amid an expected contentious debate over raising the debt ceiling.

“Providing aid in the wake of Harvey and raising the debt ceiling are both important issues, and Democrats want to work to do both,” the statement said. “Given the interplay between all the issues Congress must tackle in September, Democrats and Republicans must discuss all the issues together and come up with a bipartisan consensus.”

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