Disaster Assistance Stalls Again

April 4, 2019

On Monday, the Senate voted down two disaster relief packages; one drafted by Senate Republicans and another House-passed bill. Democrats argued that the Senate-drafted bill, which included $600 million for Puerto Rico, did not include enough money to help the U.S. territory that has been devastated by hurricanes the past two years.  Democrats have demanded that Puerto Rico receive the money that has already been appropriated, while Republicans reiterated President Trump’s claim that Puerto Rico has already received too much.

President Trump, who has been slow to release the appropriated funds, has exhibited little urgency in helping Puerto Rico. The lack of funding for Puerto Rico has cut SNAP benefits and crippled their ability to rebuild.  The impasse has now stalled the passage of a $13.5 billion disaster relief bill that not only includes disaster funding for Puerto Rico and the Southeastern U.S. impacted by damaging weather, but also includes assistance for communities and farmers, including those hit by historic floods in Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa.  It’s a risky and perplexing political move by the President, to further delay disaster assistance to farmers over what amounts to a political refusal to help heavily Democratic Puerto Rico recover from its devastating storms.