Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Trump Administration opposes giving Puerto Rico funds

The White House doubled down yesterday on President Trump’s comments opposing disaster funding for Puerto Rico, drawing outrage from Democratic members of Congress and raising questions about the administration’s rationale.

On Tuesday, Trump told Republican legislators at a closed-door Capitol Hill meeting that Puerto Rico had gotten too much money to rebuild after Hurricane Maria. The amount “is way out of proportion to what Texas and Florida and others have gotten,” Trump said, according to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who was in the room.

Yesterday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told NBC News that while Puerto Rico is on track to receive tens of billions of dollars in unprecedented aid, “the Trump administration will not put taxpayers on the hook to correct a decades-old spending crisis that has left the island with deep-rooted economic problems.” Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y., who is Puerto Rican, blasted the administration’s comments in a statement.

“The President’s remarks as reported in the media have at long last laid bare the central reason for his Administration’s callous response to Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico,” said Velázquez, “namely that he does not value the lives of millions of American citizens who reside there.” “For the President to vocally oppose and target aid to the most vulnerable in Puerto Rico is shameful, heartless and inexcusable,” the congresswoman added.

On Wednesday, a White House official told NBC News on background some of the reasons why the administration was opposed to more spending, but in doing so, the administration got some facts wrong. For instance, the official said that the Puerto Rican government had not yet submitted a plan to fix the island’s power grid.

However, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced on Tuesday that he’s ready to sign into law a bill approved by the Puerto Rican legislature. Trump has claimed I previous occasions that the island was trying to use recovery money to pay its $72 billion public debt.

The White House comments have pushed some Democrats to demand changes to the Senate’s latest disaster aid package, backed mainly by Republicans, that would require the Trump administration to release already-allocated funds for Puerto Rico and other states that have faced natural disasters.