Republicans Turn On Trump To Get Funding To Puerto Rico & He’s Pissed

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You might hope that relief funding for natural disaster-stricken areas would be left relatively unaffected by political bickering — but that’s not the Trump-ian way. Although President Donald Trump pressed House Republicans to vote against a $17 billion disaster relief package for struggling areas like Puerto Rico, dozens of them banded together with the Democratic majority to get the legislation passed this week. Trump has insisted that Puerto Rican officials have mismanaged aid that’s already been delivered that they’re also supposedly ungrateful for, but in reality, the island continues to struggle, with almost 3,000 left dead from the effects of Hurricane Maria alone.

Trump has lied about this situation, claiming that the elevated death toll was “fake news” and that the island has gotten tens of billions of dollars more in aid than they’ve actually received. He alleged that $91 billion has been distributed, making it the most expensive disaster relief effort in U.S. history — but that’s flatly not true. Only about $11 billion has been distributed overall for Puerto Rican recovery efforts so far, with about $41 billion approved overall, across multiple agencies including the Federal Disaster Management Agency (FEMA). Even if Trump was accurate about the volume of the aid that’s been handed out — his other claim that it’s the most costly U.S. disaster in history is also false. The federal government spent about $120 billion to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.

In other words, his political opposition to House Democrats’ efforts to get aid to struggling Americans in Puerto Rico is based on lies. Their legislation that they passed anyway still has a way to go before further aid is actually allocated to the island. At present, the Republican-majority Senate is still hashing out their version of a plan and the president has to eventually sign whatever the chambers come up with for it to matter. The House actually passed a similar aid package soon after they became the House majority, but in the months since, it’s gotten nowhere in the Senate.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) offered the pipe dream on the occasion of the latest House legislation:

‘I know that we can do better. I’ve spoken to the president. I’ve spoken to the leader on the Senate side. I believe that we can solve this all by next week.’

Trump is stumping for his own pet projects that require massive funding, having included a request for billions of dollars for a border wall in his most recent budget submission to Congress, which has most of the final say. It’s ironic that he wants billions upon billions for that effort confronting an issue that crime rates make clear doesn’t exist while allowing actual suffering Americans to go uncared for.

The House Oversight Committee has opened an investigation into the administration’s handling of aid to Puerto Rico, recently demanding a wide cache of documents covering relevant agency preparation for and responses to the storms. Despite the thousands of deaths, Trump has insisted that the government aid effort to Puerto Rico was a “rousing, unsung success,” perpetually unwilling to step out from behind the veil of his politics even for a minute.

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