HUD Investigating Possible White House Interference in Puerto Rico Aid; Trump Again Complains to Congress
HUD Inspector General’s (IG) office is looking into whether the White House interfered with Puerto Rico disaster aid. A HUD lawyer on Tuesday told the House Financial Services Committee, chaired by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), that the IG has already launched a probe in response to lawmakers’ request that it see if the Trump administration has slowed the flow of aid to Puerto Rico. The investigation is part of a broader examination of the HUD’s administration of disaster grants. The news came as WaPo reported on Tuesday that Trump complained to GOP Senators about the continued aid to the island, questioning why Puerto Rico was getting “$91 billion” compared to aid given to Texas and South Carolina -- who received $29 and $1.5 billion in aid respectively -- and remarking that one could buy Puerto Rico four times over for $91 billion. The Post pointed out that these numbers are not accurate since Congress has actually appropriated $20 billion in relief funds to the island, though of that amount, only $1.5 billion has actually been approved for spending. The Post on Monday reported that Trump in February asked his top advisors for ways to limit federal support to Puerto Rico, believing it is taking money that should be going to the mainland. Earlier this month, Puerto Rico’s government cut the island’s food stamp program by 25% due to the delay even though 43% island’s population still relies on food stamps following Hurricane Maria’s devastation. More here.