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Sat Mar 30, 2019, 09:24 AM

Massive disaster relief bill at risk of stalling as Trump, Democrats fight over help for Puerto Rico

Source: Washington Post

Massive disaster relief bill at risk of stalling as Trump, Democrats fight over help for Puerto Rico

By Erica Werner and Jeff Stein March 29 at 5:40 PM

President Trump’s opposition to aid for Puerto Rico has sparked a partisan standoff over a major disaster bill covering much of the United States, threatening to derail the legislation when it faces a critical Senate vote Monday.

The stalemate has caused days of acrimonious finger-pointing on all sides, with no resolution in sight. Now it threatens to indefinitely delay the bill, which provides more than $13 billion in much-needed recovery funds for everything from volcanic eruptions in Hawaii and wildfires in California, to hurricanes in Florida and Georgia and flooding in the Midwest, among other calamities.

“Many states are currently bearing heavy burdens in the wake of powerful natural disasters,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said this week as he urged support for the GOP’s emergency spending bill. “Many communities are still literally underwater.”

But Democrats oppose the GOP legislation, contending that the $600 million it contains for Puerto Rico’s food stamp program ignores broader needs on the island. They are accusing Trump and the GOP of indifference toward Puerto Rico as the territory continues a nearly two-year recovery from Hurricane Maria, arguing the Trump administration has been slow to make funding available.

“The president's refusal to help Americans in Puerto Rico not only delays an important disaster bill that many other states are relying on to speed their recovery efforts, it discriminates against over 3 million Americans who reside in Puerto Rico, and that’s wrong,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/massive-disaster-relief-bill-at-risk-of-stalling-as-trump-democrats-fight-over-help-for-puerto-rico/2019/03/29/6760f5e6-5232-11e9-88a1-ed346f0ec94f_story.html

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