Friday, January 18, 2019

Trump tried to withhold federal disaster relief funds from Puerto Rico, report says

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2019 at 4:40 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO VIA RICARDO ROSSELLÓ/FACEBOOK
President Donald Trump said he did not want "a single dollar going to Puerto Rico" in federal disaster relief funds as the U.S. territory struggled with the continuing aftermath of Hurricane María, according to a recent report from the Washington Post.

Trump reportedly made the comments last September after falsely claiming that Puerto Rican politicians wanted federal aid to pay off the island's mammoth debts instead of using it to rebuild Puerto Rico after the disastrous 2017 hurricane.


Despite having no proof that this was the case, the president attempted to illegally redirect the money appropriated by Congress for Puerto Rico to instead go to Florida and Texas. The Post reports:
"Trump told then-White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and then-Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney that he did not want a single dollar going to Puerto Rico, because he thought the island was misusing the money and taking advantage of the government, according to a person with direct knowledge of the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive internal deliberations.

Instead, he wanted more of the money to go to Texas and Florida, the person said.

'POTUS was not consolable about this,' the person said."
Pam Patenaude, the deputy secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development who resigned this week, told the Trump administration the money had already been appropriated by Congress and had to be sent to the island. The Post cited Trump's attempt to block disaster relief funds for Puerto Rico as one of the many reasons a frustrated Patenaude decided to leave the agency.

Aside from the Post report, Puerto Rican leaders grew increasingly aggravated with Trump this week after his administration rejected $600 million in funding for the island's food stamp program, calling it "excessive and unnecessary."



"We've had to overcome the incorrect, pre-conceived notions and had to comply with additional and burdensome requirements that were not required by other U.S. jurisdictions," Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said in a Facebook video addressing Trump. "There is a patent, severe lack of knowledge regarding the inequalities sustained by the U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico and of the use of the recovery funding in all the reports that have been attributed to your administration."

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz was more blunt regarding Trump, saying, "We deserve to be treated like people. You are not a plantation owner and we are not your slaves."


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