The House on Friday passed legislation to provide Puerto Rico with $4.7 billion in emergency aid to help the island recover from the deva...
The House on Friday passed legislation to provide Puerto Rico with $4.7 billion in emergency aid to help the island recover from the devastation caused by recent earthquakes and damage that remains from hurricanes Maria and Irma despite a veto threat from President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump discusses coronavirus with China’s Xi El Paso Walmart shooting suspect charged under federal hate crime law Buttigieg: It was ‘disgraceful’ to hear Trump’s attacks on Romney MORE.
The measure, passed in the lower chamber with 237-161 vote, was spearheaded by House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyWe must repeal the Global Gag Rule to protect girls’ and women’s lives White House threatens to veto House bill to aid Puerto Rico earthquake recovery Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America’s Health Care Future — Democrats seek to preempt Trump message on health care | E-cigarette executives set for grilling | Dems urge emergency funding for coronavirus MORE (D-N.Y.).
The legislation would provide a $3.26 billion community development block grant (CDBG) for disaster recovery, $1.25 billion to repair infrastructure including roads and bridges, $100 million to restart school operations, $40 million for nutrition assistance and an additional $20 million for Puerto Rico’s energy needs.
The Trump administration, however, issued a veto threat on Wednesday, citing concerns over corruption and misuse of previous aid provided to the territory for recovery efforts.
“Neither Puerto Ricans nor the American taxpayers benefit when emergency aid is misallocated, lost, or stolen through waste, fraud, and abuse,” the White House said in its statement.
“Puerto Rico has a long history of inadequate financial controls over regular government operations, which forced the Congress to appoint a financial control board in 2016. Multiple high-profile cases of corruption have marred distribution of aid already appropriated and have led to ongoing political instability on the island.”
Democrats pushed back on that characterization, noting that CDBG funds were overseen by watchdogs.
The emergency supplemental package laid out in the legislation also includes language that would place a requirement on the Trump administration to submit “detailed spending plans” and mandate the funding be released “released in a timely manner.”
“I had a firsthand tune to see the devastation that Puerto Rico suffered from. And this was prior to the 6.7 earthquake that hit on January 7,” Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenClinton advises checking your voter registration during Trump’s State of the Union Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley to boycott State of the Union 10 Democrats to boycott Trump State of the Union address MORE (D-Texas) said on the floor, noting his visit to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit the island.
“I believe it is time for us to act. I believe this legislation provides the means by which we can act appropriately.”
The recent series of earthquakes has left two-thirds of the island without power, 300,000 people without water and damaged hundreds of homes.
Just last month, the Trump administration released $8 billion in relief funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development that had been delayed since September.
Democrats were incensed by the delay, calling it political and, worse, a result of bias.
“Anything coming from the White House is probably dictated from the top, by the president’s prejudice and his relentlessly negative attitude toward Puerto Rico,” said Rep. David PriceDavid Eugene PriceDemocrats likely to gain seats under new North Carolina maps North Carolina ruling could cost GOP House seats Trump officials say aid to Puerto Rico was knowingly stalled after Hurricane Maria MORE (D-N.C.), an appropriator.
Price also noted that the package re-ups CDBG funds for other aid causes outside of Puerto Rico.
Senate Republicans said they would not advance on the bill.