The Senate on Thursday easily passed legislation reflecting President Trump's surprise deal with Democrats to provide billions of dollars in Hurricane Harvey relief, and extend federal spending and borrowing authority into December.
The package passed the upper chamber by an 80-17 vote. Both Texas senators, Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, voted in favor of it.
Senate passage came less than a day after Trump surprised Republicans by accepting their call for a short-term suspension of the debt ceiling, just moments after House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said a three-month suspension is "ridiculous."
On Thursday, Paul admitted that the severe damage done to Texas and Louisiana by Hurricane Harvey was a "game changer," and several members of Congress have noted that Hurricane Irma is expected to do real damage to Florida and possibly other states over the weekend.
Other Republicans noted that with the government bumping up against the debt ceiling, Congress had to combine the issues into a single bill in order to ensure quick relief to hurricane victims.
The deal between Trump and Democrats allowed the Senate to quickly reshape and pass the hurricane relief bill. It started as a House-passed bill approving $7.4 billion in disaster relief aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with another $450 million for the Small Business Authority disaster loan program.
But late Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee released an amended bill that added another $7.4 billion for Community Development Block Grant funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The amended bill also included language allowing for federal spending at fiscal year 2017 levels through Dec. 8. And, it added language suspending the debt ceiling through the same date.
The deal drew immediate opposition from the Republican Study Committee, which said the GOP should have spent more time trying to negotiate spending reductions in return for an increase in the debt ceiling.
Just prior to the bill's passage, the Senate rejected proposals from Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ben Sasse, R-Neb., to amend the bill. Paul's language would have required the Senate to offset the bill with spending cuts, and Sasse wanted to pass the smaller, $7.85 billion House bill.