By Shane McCauley
The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, stated on Twitter that Puerto Rico has not been able to spend “a single dollar of the money already appropriated by Congress.” In a related tweet, Rossello went on to plead that “[Puerto Rico] is home to over 3 million proud Americans that are still recovering from the storm and are in need of federal assistance. We are not your adversaries, we are your citizens.”
Since 2017, Puerto Rico has needed aid in the form of money to help its citizens in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Recently in January 2019, it was supposed to receive more aid, but this has since been delayed due to the government shutdown. President Donald Trump claims that the island has received 91 billion dollars in the form of aid, but this was just a misrepresentation of the amount the island stated it needed in November. Instead, a White House official confirmed that the government only gave 40 billion dollars to Puerto Rico, which is far from enough. Most of that 40 billion has not reached Puerto Rico because many forms need to be signed in order to allocate the money, and because the government shutdown delayed the process. The only money that Puerto Rico has been able to use from the government so far is 3.7 billion that was sent in the direct aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Otherwise, most money that has been allocated to the territory has not made its way there.
Because the Senate’s version of the Puerto Rico aid package is not reaching the island and includes less benefits, Rossello reported on Twitter for his citizens to support the House’s version of the aid package. It includes more benefits for Puerto Rico itself; however, the Senate has stated that the House’s package did not provide enough funds for midwestern states experiencing floods. The main reason President Trump and the government are not being cooperative about sending Puerto Rico money is because he believes that the territory is using the money to pay off its debt, which is at about 72 billion. However, representatives of Puerto Rico have never stated this and any attempt to do this would have to be approved by the Congress.