Published: Wed, April 03, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Trump Lashes Out Over Puerto Rico Funding

Trump Lashes Out Over Puerto Rico Funding

Schumer and other Democrats say they could have worked out an agreement with GOP senators if Trump had not ruled out sending additional funding to Puerto Rico.

"The Democrats today killed a Bill that would have provided great relief to Farmers and yet more money to Puerto Rico despite the fact that Puerto Rico has already been scheduled to receive more hurricane relief funding than any "place" in history", Trump tweeted.

Though disaster relief packages typically pass through Congress without much issue, Trump's unwillingness to send more aid to Puerto Rico has invigorated a partisan fight over the recent bill.

On Monday, Senate Democrats blocked a disaster aid bill because it didn't do enough to address the need in Puerto Rico. "They are blocking funding and relief for our great farmers and rural America!"

The $13.5 billion legislation would have provided aid for states recovering from a spate of natural disasters, including the California wildfires last summer and hurricane damage in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.

In all, the federal government has allocated almost $41 billion, and has obligated about half of it via binding agreements, but as we said, so far just a portion of that - $11.2 billion - has been distributed in Puerto Rico. Democrats are also seeking to force the administration to release billions of dollars in rebuilding funds that have already been approved. "So I think it's unfortunate to have just a take-it-or-leave-it bill". I think we have a good package that the House would accept.

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The political momentum for the measure - strongly backed by Trump's allies in Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina, among other states - has only been heightened by massive flooding in Midwestern states such as Nebraska and Iowa, whose nominating caucuses are the first test for Democrats hoping to challenge Trump next year.

The $13.45 billion GOP-sponsored bill provides disaster relief to states impacted by hurricanes, flooding and other natural disasters, and includes $600 million for Puerto Rico's food stamp program - a figure well short of what Senate Democrats argue Puerto Rico needs after Hurricane Maria crippled the island in 2017 and led to the deaths of almost 3,000 people. Yulin Cruz, now the co-chair of Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign and a candidate for governor of Puerto Rico, became one of his more vocal antagonists after Hurricane Maria, though she didn't restrict herself to criticism of the president.

Trump also questioned why the island was receiving $91 billion in aid. "They don't know how to spend the money and they're not spending it wisely".

"He gave them a lot of money", Gidley added.

According to the White House, Trump's $91 billion estimate includes about $50 billion in expected future disaster disbursements that could span decades, along with $41 billion already approved.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told reporters Tuesday that lawmakers have made virtually no progress on overcoming the impasse. "The House, the Senate and the president are involved in this".

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