House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday the disaster caused by Hurricane Harvey and the looming impact of Category 5 Hurricane Irma made it necessary to agree to a three-month increase in the debt limit, despite his opposition to that short-term agreement.
Ryan, R-Wis., said Republicans advocated for a long-term provision to raise the nation's borrowing limit, but the crisis caused by two hurricanes required fast action and bipartisanship, rather than a protracted fight leading up to a Sept. 30 deadline.
"We all thought we had more time, obviously, to deal with the debt limit issue," Ryan said. "And that's before the hurricanes hit."
Hurricane Harvey caused wind and massive flood damage in Texas and Louisiana last month while Hurricane Irma has damaged Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and is headed to South Florida at Category 5 strength.
Ryan said the multi-state disasters caused by the storms has depleted Federal Emergency Management Agency funds, which will run dry by as early as Friday.
"When these hurricanes hit and we saw the new numbers coming in from FEMA, that changed the entire calculation," Ryan said. "And so, the president made a game call yesterday that he thought was in our country's best interest to have bipartisan support, in a bipartisan package, to deal with these ongoing disasters."
The Senate could vote on the disaster relief and debt ceiling package as early as Thursday and a House vote will follow.
Many Republicans are expected to vote against it because it does not impose spending reforms. But Democratic support will help it pass in the House.