Latest on Hurricane Harvey Recovery

WASHINGTON (AP) – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says Congress needs to combine a $7.9 billion disaster relief package for Harvey with an increase in the nation’s borrowing limit. He says the federal government otherwise won’t be able to get aid to storm victims in Texas. Lawmakers return to Washington this week after their summer recess, and President Donald Trump plans to meet with congressional leaders from both parties to discuss the relief package.

Congress is coming back to Washington with its agenda upended by Harvey. A daunting workload awaits, including funding the government by month’s end and increasing the federal borrowing limit to head off a catastrophic first-ever default. But the immediate focus will be on rushing an aid package to storm-ravaged Texas and Louisiana, and that bipartisan imperative has pushed aside talk of a government shutdown and President Donald Trump’s feuding with GOP lawmakers.

Harvey’s filthy floodwaters pose significant dangers to human safety and the environment even after water levels drop far enough that Southeast Texas residents no longer fear for their lives. Houston already was notorious for sewer overflows following rainstorms. Now its system faces an unprecedented challenge. Authorities say standing water will contain untreated sewage, along with spilled fuel and toxic waste. They’re urging residents to stay out of it when possible.

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