Disaster relief bills usually pass quickly through Congress. Not this year. The current disaster spending bill took about six months to pass. But, after months of controversy and delays, a 19.1 billion dollar disaster funding bill has passed through both the Senate and the House. It went to President Trump, who signed the bill.
The bill includes about $1.4 billion for Puerto Rico. $600 million is earmarked for nutrition assistance. There is also $304 million in Community Development Block Grant funding to help rebuild homes and infrastructure.
Disaster funding is also included for a number of states which have experienced natural disasters since Hurricane Maria.
Observers claim that the long turnaround time on this bill centered on President Trump’s disagreements with Puerto Rico leaders, including Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz. He recently tweeted that she is “crazed” and she responded by calling him “unhinged.” President Trump has also been claiming that Puerto Rico has already received $91 billion in aid money and that the Island’s request for food stamp aid is “excessive.”
There has also been controversy over whether the disaster relief bill should also include funds to build a border wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
President Trump tweeted his support of the bill, which passed while he was visiting the United Kingdom.
222 Democrats and 132 Republicans voted in favor of the bill. 58 Republicans voted against. Three GOP lawmakers blocked the bill when the House attempted to approve it by unanimous consent last week.
Puerto Rico continues to struggle with damage from Hurricane Maria in 2017. Most of the funds promised to the Island have not yet reached Puerto Rico.