Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Sunday on NBC News' "Meet the Press" that "in the intel committee that I serve on, I think it doesn't disclose anything to say that in the previous year [North Korea] has probably been the No. 1 topic month after month - what was happening there, what are we going to do about it - and I hope the neighborhood understands how critical this is".
Lawmakers returning to Washington after a month-long break are expected to swiftly agree to an initial request for almost $8 billion in disaster aid, with the House of Representatives considering assistance on Wednesday.
With much of Washington distracted by tensions with North Korea over its nuclear program, Congress must also raise the federal debt ceiling by the end of September or early October to stave off an unprecedented US government debt default, which would shake global markets.
On Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott described the federal aid package as an important initial "down payment" on Harvey relief that he expects will come to $150 billion to $180 billion.
"That sends all the wrong message: 'Let's go ahead and increase the debt ceiling, and by the way, while we're doing it let's go ahead and spend another $15, $20 billion?' That's not to undercut the importance of Harvey relief".
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told "Fox News Sunday" earlier that he's preparing a sanctions package that would cut off "all trade and other business", with North Korea, following the country's overnight nuclear test, its sixth and most powerful. "We need Congress to step up and pass this and help Texas rebuild", he said.
Mnuchin: Congress must tie Harvey aid to raising debt limit
But Representative Mark Walker also warned that "legislative games" like attaching Harvey aid to a debt ceiling hike could jeopardize consensus.
The Senate has not said when or how it will vote on Harvey aid. In addition, Congress also must approve funding for the federal government beyond September 30 - the end of the current fiscal year - to avert a partial government shutdown on October 1.
"We obviously have now the hurricane spending, which is an issue". Congressional leaders would have to look at whether the votes are there, he said.
Harvey funding itself is a bit of a political football. That's from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who says it's needed to ensure storm victims in Texas get the help they need.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said his top priorities are funding for debris removal, "housing, housing, housing", and expedited assistance for first responders who've been helping others but face their own challenges at home. "The city of Houston is open for business", he said.
Mr. Long said his agency has deployed management teams to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to prepare for the approaching system, which has strengthened to a category-three storm as it approaches the Caribbean. "Think through what you will need to do if your area is placed on watch late next week".
Where the government spends to keep people in flood-prone Houston neighborhoods
Flood insurance essentially guarantees, up to a limit, money for the program's 5 million policyholders to fix damage or rebuild. The government bets that Americans, who are mostly kind, decent and generous, will simply bite the bullet and pay up.