Donald Trump wants to stop sending disaster aid to Puerto Rico. Senate Democrats are threatening to vote down a $13.5 billion disaster aid bill unless Puerto Rico gets more money.
But Democrats and Republicans from Florida want the bill — which includes $600 million for Puerto Rico’s bankrupt nutrition assistance program — to pass as is immediately.
“We’re talking about hungry kids here,” said Rep. Darren Soto, a Puerto Rican Democrat from Central Florida who represents the state’s largest Puerto Rican community. “I realize that in an ideal world we would have more, but I realize there’s going to be interplay between the House and the Senate. There’s going to have to be some compromise about this stuff.”
The latest Puerto Rico fight, over 18 months after Hurricane Maria made landfall and left tens of thousands without power for months, comes after the president told Republican senators during a private lunch that the U.S. territory was receiving too much disaster aid from the federal government.
Trump claimed Thursday that he’s “taken better care of Puerto Rico than any man ever.”
Senate Democrats are pushing for more money for Puerto Rico and, after Trump’s comments, have threatened to vote against a disaster relief bill that could make it to the floor next week. Ten Republicans voted against the bill during an earlier procedural vote and more of them could be spurred to vote against the proposal if they think that’s what Trump would prefer.
“I’d love to have some additional money in the bill, but we don’t have the support for it, the president won’t sign it,” said Sen. Marco Rubio. “So we can least get the [nutrition] money taken care of.”