Lawmakers Push Back on President’s Call to Cut Hurricane Aid to Puerto Rico
Donald Trump asked Congress last week to stop providing relief and reconstruction money to Puerto Rico. He reportedly told congressional leaders and appropriators that he doesn’t want to include additional Puerto Rico funding in future spending bills. A bicameral group of lawmakers -- including Congressmen Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), and Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), and Senator Bob Menéndez (D-NJ) -- wrote Trump a letter condemning his comment, saying pulling federal relief aid would have a “catastrophic effect on the Island’s already fragile recovery.” In the letter, the lawmakers instead suggest that future legislation should preclude disaster relief funds from being used to pay for Puerto Rico’s debt. “President Trump and Republicans in Congress turned their backs on the American citizens of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and the island is still suffering from their neglect,” Grijalva said. “The President’s ultimate responsibility is to keep Americans safe during times of disaster and recovery ... Certainly, disaster assistance funds shouldn’t be siphoned off to pay hedge funds and Wall Street creditors. However, the answer isn’t to slash assistance to our fellow citizens who are in desperate need, but rather to provide the necessary aid and ensure that it is walled off from creditors,” added Velázquez. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) also signed on. See the full letter here.