Puerto Rico has been approved more than $8 billion in disaster aid funding that was previously blocked by the Trump administration. The Department of Housing and Urban Development ended the hold by the Trump administration to the funds.
Peurto Rico has suffered great losses from Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria that hit in 2017. Congress had approved $20 billion in disaster aid funding to the unincorporated US territory, but only $1.5 billion was administered. The remaining part of the funds had remained blocked, which had angered many lawmakers and officials.
Most of the pressure to release the funds came from the Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even called asked the administration to “cease and desist that illegal activity.”
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has been slow in the process of administering the funds. It says it needs to ensure financial safeguards and publish the guidelines on how the funds can be used and that political unrest in the territory is making the department take its time to ensure everything is in place.
Finally, HUD has moved forward with the Trump administration to release more than $8 billion to those in need. A HUD official told POLITICO, “Now that a full financial monitoring team is assembled and active, we can move forward with confidence that these disaster recovery funds will reach those who need them the most.”
Though it would have been better if the Trump administration had approved more funds in 2017 when the territory needed it most. However, as Res. Cmmsr. Jenniffer González of Puerto Rico says, “We’ve been fighting for this for many months so I’m happy that finally [the Office of Management and Budget] and HUD-approved the notification.” She also notes that the disaster aid funding will help relief efforts after recent earthquakes in Puerto Rico.
Do you feel that US territories like Puerto Rico are being treated as different from the rest of the nation? Should Cuba be allowed access to disaster aid funds? Let us know in the comments!
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