Much of Puerto Rico remains without power, as the US island territory struggles to rebuild after two hurricanes rocked the small island.
According to The Chicago Tribune, President Trump is stepping up–yet again–to try and provide relief to the struggling territory. On Thursday, President Trump signed a $36.5 billion emergency aid bill to provide much-needed funding to the relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
The bill was drafted in the Senate to provide relief for Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, and a number of Western states suffering massive wildfires. In Puerto Rico’s case, it would bail out the Federal Flood Insurance Program which has been tapped out from so many claims. The measure would serve to refill the program used to fund the relief operations.
So far, Congress has approved over $50 billion in relief funding for Puerto Rico and the US, but much more is needed as the rebuilding efforts from the damage caused by multiple hurricanes are proving to be massive.
According to CNBC, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney says given that repairs will require “several tens of billions of dollars,” budget cuts to offset the expense. “As we move toward the longer-term issue of rebuilding the impacted areas of our nation, we believe that it is appropriate that the Congress consider reducing spending elsewhere in order to offset what will, again, be a significant amount of unbudgeted spending,” Mulvaney said.
Some have been critical of President Trump’s efforts to assist Puerto Rico, saying his efforts have been too slow and too small when compared to relief efforts in Texas and Florida. US News reports that Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, commander of US Army North and tasked with the Puerto Rico disaster response, strongly rejects this criticism.
According to Buchanan, “It’s hard to mass resources when you’re dependent on sealift and airlift to get anything here. You can’t just drive down the road like what happened in Florida and Irma.”
Gen. Buchanan also pointed out that Texas and Florida are among the richest states within the US and could provide for much of their own relief, whereas Puerto Rico has had a struggling economy for years.
He also points out the number of logistical problems Puerto Rico has faced in accepting the help when it first arrived: “There’s no Louisiana for Puerto Rico, so the very first thing we had to do was open up the seaports and the airports. Until we got that done, we couldn’t even get federal military help here. It’s a completely different situation.”
President Trump announced he is sending billions of dollars in aid to Puerto Rico. Will the media report on it?
According to The New York Post, Puerto Rico’s own Gov. Ricardo Rossello echoed this sentiment when speaking to reporters, citing lack of truckers as a problem: “Really, our biggest challenge has been the logistical assets to try to get some of the food and some of the water to different areas of Puerto Rico.”
Fuel shortages have also proved problematic. Employees haven’t had the fuel to commute to their jobs, and trucks haven’t had the fuel to deliver the supplies. The combination of several significant problems has created a logistical disaster in the wake of the hurricanes, and the response by many has simply been to point the finger of blame.
This new bill, meant to provide additional relief to Puerto Rico, is a welcome move for an island territory still struggling to rebuild its infrastructure following the disaster. Hopefully, with the additional funding, residents of Puerto Rico will receive the supplies and electricity they need to rebuild their lives.