‘We’ve been fighting this for months…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) The Trump administration has agreed to lift its months-long ban on disaster aid relief to Puerto Rico, according to a senior Department of Housing and Urban Development official.
Congress authorized more than $20 billion in aid to the island to assist with its hurricane relief efforts. But Trump placed a hold on the funds due to rampant government corruption on the island.
“Their political system is broken and their politicians are either incompetent or corrupt,” he said in September, adding that billions of dollars in previous aid had gone to “crooks pols. No good!”
Now HUD is working to develop a plan to distribute at least $8.2 billion, according to Politico. The delay stemmed from an effort to ensure that proper safeguards were in place before the administration released the funds, the official said.
“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,” the official explained.
Puerto Rico has suffered a series of damaging earthquakes, and congressional Democratic leadership had been putting pressure on the Trump administration to stop the “unlawful withholding of funds from Puerto Rico.”
“There has been a disaster designated, but the ongoing withholding of funds appropriated by Congress to Puerto Rico is illegal and we call upon the administration to cease and desist that illegal activity,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said last week.
Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González said this is “the best news in months,” noting she had taken the issue directly to Trump last week. “We’ve been fighting this for months,” she said.
Puerto Rico has a long history of fraudulent corruption. Just last year, federal authorities arrested several former Federal Emergency Management Authority officials for bribery, fraud and corruption in the handling of Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria.