House lawmakers next week will approve another federal emergency funding request to aid states and U.S. territories ravaged by recent hurricanes.
The chamber will also consider a bill to enhance whistleblower protections and will vote to begin negotiations with the Senate on a compromise bill authorizing defense spending for fiscal 2018.
The $29 billion hurricane aid measure is expected to easily win House approval. The bill then moves to the Senate, which is out of session next week but will likely consider it quickly once senators return.
Much of the funding package, about $16 billion, is dedicated to the troubled national flood insurance program, which owes $25 billion to the U.S. Treasury and is inundated with new claims from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
Another $12.8 billion will replenish the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund, which has been nearly depleted this summer. The request also includes $575.5 million to help western states recover from devastating wildfires.
President Trump sent the funding request to Congress a day after he traveled to Puerto Rico to see first hand the massive damage caused by Hurricane Maria. Much of the island, which is a U.S. territory, still lacks power and potable water.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Thursday that Republicans, who run the chamber, won't attach anything extra to the must-pass bill that might lead to opposition from Democrats. He also pledged there will be more federal aid as recovery continues.
"I do not believe this will be the last of the supplementals based on the damage that has been done from the numerous hurricanes," McCarthy said. "There will be more money for disaster relief for Texas, Puerto Rico, Florida and the Virgin Islands."
A new hurricane threatened the Gulf Coast on Friday.
The House will also vote on the Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act, which would enhance protections for federal employees.
It would set minimum discipline standards all agencies would have to follow for retaliating against whistleblowers, and would restrict access to medical files of employees in retaliation for whistleblowing.
The bill is named after a Veterans Affairs employee who committed suicide after being fired when he questioned the over-medication of veterans being treated at the Tomah, Wis., VA facility.
"Dr. Kirkpatrick did everything he could to unveil the alarming over-medication of veterans at the Tomah VA, and it ended up costing him his job and his life," said Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., sponsor of the bill. "This whistleblower protection bill will honor his legacy and take further steps to protect the courageous men and women who stand up for what's right against immoral behavior within our government."
The House will also vote to meet with Senate lawmakers to hammer out a compromise over fiscal 2018 defense spending. Both the House and Senate this summer passed legislation authorizing nearly $700 billion in defense spending next year, which is nearly $100 billion more than requested by President Trump.
The additional funds are aimed at rebuilding a depleted military, say proponents.
The House and Senate bills are very similar but the two sides will have to work out a few differences. That includes language in the House bill that calls for the Defense Department to create a Space Corps which would serve as a new branch of the military.
The Senate bill does not include the provision. Instead, the Senate legislation creates a Chief Information Warfare Officer to oversee cybersecurity.
Editor's note: Update corrects Rep. Kevin McCarthy's title. He is House majority leader, not Senate majority leader.