Democrats Turn to Petty Politics To Keep Relief Funding Away from Heartland States
Of the many things that Democrats have criticized President Donald Trump over, the narrative that Trump’s administration offered up incomplete disaster relief to the island territory of Puerto Rico following back-to-back hurricanes in 2017 ranks near the top of the most disingenuous.
Resources and rescue operations from the federal government had been pre-staged and rushed into Puerto Rico almost immediately after the storms had passed, and the island has received tens of billions of dollars in federal aid to assist with recovery efforts over the several months since that time.
Yet, Puerto Rico remains a complete mess and has made minimal progress in recovery efforts over that same time frame, and Democrats seem intent on not only blaming the disastrous aftermath on Trump but also using the island’s poor recovery as a political cudgel against the president.
Senate Democrats, with the help of a few Republicans, managed to kill a bill that would have provided billions in disaster relief funding for Midwest states inundated with severe flooding due to recent strong storm systems and snow-melt from the spring thaw that has raised river and creek levels to dangerous heights, Fox News reported.
The purported reason for the death of that bill, which failed by a vote of 44-49, was the fact that Democrats had demanded an extra $700 million in disaster relief for Puerto Rico, on top of an unspecified amount of disaster aid for the island already included in the measure.
That money was theoretically supposed to go toward rebuilding the island’s damaged water systems. Democrats had also demanded that the Trump administration unlock previously appropriated funds destined for the island’s recovery efforts — though it is unclear how much, if any, of that relief has been held up by the administration.
Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said in a tweet that Democrats had turned disaster funding into a “partisan issue,” while Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley decried Democratic hypocrisy in lamenting “Washington political games” out on the campaign trail while engaging in such games while in Washington itself.
My statement on Senate Democrats continuing to play politics with much-needed disaster funding https://t.co/ArY6UIJY8x pic.twitter.com/2U13F3tl6Y
— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) April 2, 2019
Following the vote, Republican Georgia Sen. David Perdue, who sponsored the bill, tweeted, “I have never been more frustrated as a United States Senator than I am right now. This is pure partisan politics.”
“Washington has reached a new low — it’s been nearly six months since Hurricane Michael ravaged Georgia and other states across the country, and Congress has failed to help the very people it claims to represent,” Perdue later said in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned, “This is no time for my colleagues across the aisle to prioritize a political fight with the president ahead of the urgent needs of communities across America.”
Yet, that is exactly what the Democrats did, an act that compelled a flurry of outraged tweets from President Trump on Monday night that spilled over into Tuesday morning.
Trump wrote, “The Democrats today killed a Bill that would have provided great relief to Farmers and yet more money to Puerto Rico despite the fact that Puerto Rico has already been scheduled to receive more hurricane relief funding than any ‘place’ in history.”
The Democrats today killed a Bill that would have provided great relief to Farmers and yet more money to Puerto Rico despite the fact that Puerto Rico has already been scheduled to receive more hurricane relief funding than any “place” in history. The people of Puerto Rico…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2019
“The people of Puerto Rico … are GREAT, but the politicians are incompetent or corrupt. Puerto Rico got far more money than Texas & Florida combined, yet their government can’t do anything right, the place is a mess – nothing works,” he continued.
“FEMA & the Military worked emergency miracles, but politicians like … the crazed and incompetent Mayor of San Juan have done such a poor job of bringing the Island back to health. 91 Billion Dollars to Puerto Rico, and now the Dems want to give them more, taking dollars away from our Farmers and so many others. Disgraceful!” Trump added.
Puerto Rico had already received more than $91 billion in relief funding, Fox News reported. Meanwhile, Florida and Texas — who also were hard-hit by the same hurricanes that demolished Puerto Rico — have received only $12 billion and $29 billion in disaster relief, respectively.
Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted, “Puerto Rico got 91 Billion Dollars for the hurricane, more money than has ever been gotten for a hurricane before, & all their local politicians do is complain & ask for more money. The pols are grossly incompetent, spend the money foolishly or corruptly, & only take from USA.”
In a follow-up tweet, the president noted of the island territory, “So many wonderful people, but with such bad Island leadership and with so much money wasted. Cannot continue to hurt our Farmers and States with these massive payments, and so little appreciation!”
The Democrat-dominated leadership of Puerto Rico is corrupt and incompetent, and they — along with their Democratic allies in the United States — have ignored their own shortcomings and cast blame for their own ignorant failures on Trump.
Unfortunately for them, he is not like other Republicans who will quietly shoulder the blame and move on. Instead, he is punching back and making sure everyone knows that Puerto Rico’s leadership is at fault for the utterly dismal disaster that island was, is, and will continue to be … so long as Democrats remain in charge of it.
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