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Additional Emergency Spending for Puerto Rico in Doubt

The Trump Administration does not see a need for new appropriations for assistance to Puerto Rico to cope with the damaging earthquakes that began December 28th and are continuing in the central and southwestern portion of the island of Puerto Rico.

A senior official was quoted this morning in Politico as reacting to the plans of House of Representatives Democrats to pass a bill to appropriate another $3.35 billion in disaster aid for the territory. $2 billion would be in the form of Community Development Block Grants, $1.25 billion would be for roads, and $100 million would be for schools.

In addition, Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner in the House, Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R/New Progressive Party), and three Representatives from Florida, Bill Posey (R), Stephanie Murphy (D), and Donna Shalala (D), have proposed making the bill bipartisan. Gonzalez-Colon would do this by adding new appropriations for the Nutrition Assistance Program for Puerto Rico, which is a scaled down version of the national Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

“It’s not the time to rush” funding, the Trump aide said.  The arguments include specific funding needs not being determined and existing appropriations that can be used for this disaster.

Democrats, however, disagree. A statement by the House Appropriations Committee Democrats led by Nita Lowey (NY) said that “President Trump has consistently turned his back on our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico. @House Democrats are moving ahead with a supplemental [appropriations bill] because Puerto Rico’s dire needs deserve an immediate response.”

The Administration official charged that Democrats are just playing politics with the issue.

The President has declared 16 of the territory’s 78 municipalities as a major disaster area because of the tremors.

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