'I'm the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Puerto Rico'

Yolanda Curtis
September 19, 2020

The White House said $9.6 billion of the new funding is meant to help the Puerto Rico Electrical Power Authority fix and replace thousands of miles of transmission and distribution lines, electrical substations, power generation systems, office buildings, and make other grid improvements.

Florida Democratic Congressman Darren Soto argues that the way President Trump is treating Puerto Rico is more evidence that the island territory should become a state.

Trump said he will help bring pharmaceutical manufacturing back to Puerto Rico at "a level far greater than it was before".

Hurricane Maria slammed into the island in September 2017 with winds of 155 miles per hour, causing an estimated $100 billion in damage and killing almost 3,000 people, according to the official death toll.

The amount of federal funds appears to be in flux, with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer saying the White House agreed to almost $10 billion, and the Governor of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vázquez Garced, saying $13 billion.

With this latest grant, the White House said the government has allocated about $26 billion for the island's recovery from Hurricane Maria. Parts of the island remained without power for nearly a year.

Vázquez also said that the funding is thanks to the work of, and good relations with, the White House and Trump.

In August 2019, the Department of Housing and Urban Development placed restrictions on the flow of aid to Puerto Rico. He added the Democrat voted against tax provisions that prevented Puerto Rico from becoming a major player in pharmaceutical manufacturing.

He praised his administration for doing far "more for Puerto Rico than anybody" else. Both parties are courting the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans who have settled in Florida, America's largest swing state. The island's electrical grid has often been battered by Atlantic hurricanes.

During a news conference, President Trump stated Joe Biden's policies "devastated" the island. Democrats earlier this year posted an image of the scene on a billboard in Kissimmee, a heavily Puerto Rican city in central Florida.

"I have to say in a very nice way, a very respectful way, I'm the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico", he said.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., the chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, said in a statement that the delay in disaster aid for infrastructure rebuilding will have long-term economic and political consequences. "It will take years for Puerto Rico to fix the unnecessary harm this president and his incompetent assistants have caused the Puerto Rican people, and they won't forget it".

"After the storms utterly destroyed the grid, it created an opportunity to rebuild a cleaner, cheaper and more resilient energy system, but the Trump administration dithered and delayed and refused to deliver timely disaster aid for the people of Puerto Rico", Schumer said.

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