Trump says to work with Congress on more aid for Puerto Rico




  • In US
  • 2017-10-19 17:23:40Z
  • By By Roberta Rampton

By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he will work with the U.S. Congress to approve grants and loans to help rebuild Puerto Rico after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria a month ago.

Speaking with reporters in the Oval Office, Trump did not give any specifics about how much money the government will give to the cash-strapped territory, home to 3.4 million U.S. citizens.

But he emphasized that repayment of federal loans and other storm-related debt owed by Puerto Rico would come before repayment of the island's existing $72 billion in debt.

"Any money that's put in by people - whether it's public or private - they're going to want to come in first position," Trump said at the beginning of a meeting with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello.

"We're going to coming before - far before - any existing debt that's on the island," he said.

A month after the hurricane laid waste to the island's power grid, destroying homes, roads and other vital infrastructure, the bankrupt territory is struggling to provide basic services like running water, and is in danger of running out of money by the end of the month.

Private sector estimates of the damage run as high as $95 billion.

The Senate is expected to vote in the coming days on an aid package that includes $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has been helping Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands recover from three massive hurricanes.

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida who has been deeply involved in discussions over aid for Puerto Rico, said earlier on Thursday that he wants Congress to make changes to the House-passed bill to allow the island to quickly access funds.

Rubio said the terms of the aid require state and territorial governments to have completed the bulk of work on formal damage assessments - a process that is more difficult for Puerto Rico because it is still reeling from the catastrophic damage from the hurricane.

"Four weeks after the storm, they are where Florida was 48 hours after the storm," Rubio told reporters after meeting with Rossello.

Congress is expected to consider another aid package by the end of December, but that could be too late for the island, which currently has no tax revenue, Rubio said.

"I know from experience the further away we get from these hurricanes, the less of a sense of urgency there is," Rubio said.

Rossello has asked the federal government for approval to use disaster aid to cover repairs to schools, buildings and power plants.

The governor has also asked the White House and Congress for at least $4.6 billion in block grants and other types of funding.

"The reality is that we still need to do a lot more for the people of Puerto Rico and that's why we're meeting," Rossello said.

"This is not over, not over by a long shot."

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Dan Grebler and Rosalba O'Brien)

COMMENTS

More Related News

'Fake' Apollo Moon Landing Photo Claims To Show Proof The Mission Was A Hoax
'Fake' Apollo Moon Landing Photo Claims To Show Proof The Mission Was A Hoax

Almost 50 years after man walked on the moon, the "giant leap for mankind" is under the microscope once again - with conspiracy theorists convinced they have proof one of the moon landings was fake. A picture allegedly taken in December 1972 of the final Apollo 17 moon mission has been shared online, and shows what one YouTuber believes is the reflection of a "stagehand" in the helmet of one of the astronauts. The photo, uploaded to YouTube this week by a user named Streetcap1 is entitled "Reflection in a Visor," and Streetcap1 suggests this casts doubt onto whether the 1972 moon landing, in particular, was staged.

US general says nuclear launch order can be refused
US general says nuclear launch order can be refused

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) - The top officer at U.S. Strategic Command said Saturday an order from President Donald Trump or any of his successors to launch nuclear weapons can be refused if that order is determined to be illegal.

FBI report on black
FBI report on black 'extremists' raises new monitoring fears

WASHINGTON (AP) - An FBI report on the rise of black "extremists" is stirring fears of a return to practices used during the civil rights movement, when the bureau spied on activist groups without evidence they had broken any laws.

White House: The Difference Between Trump And Franken Is Franken 'Admitted Wrongdoing'
White House: The Difference Between Trump And Franken Is Franken 'Admitted Wrongdoing'

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday that the allegations of sexual assault against Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) are different from those President Donald Trump has faced because Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

In Post-Weinstein Era, Trump Sexual Assault Accusers Await His Downfall
In Post-Weinstein Era, Trump Sexual Assault Accusers Await His Downfall

The women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual assault are patiently awaiting his undoing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.