Puerto Rico Funds to Be Joined With Other Storm Aid, Cornyn Says

  • Combination funding bill to come this month, senator says
  • Island Should Get $15 Billion in Initial Aid, Democrat Says

Trump Says Puerto Rico 'Literally Starting From Scratch'

Second-ranking Senate Republican John Cornyn said Monday he expects Congress’s next hurricane recovery bill will come later this month and will combine funds for victims of storms in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

"I expect there will be one combination package that will involve Harvey, Irma and Maria," the hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast and Caribbean in quick succession, Cornyn of Texas told reporters.

He said officials may have a dollar figure for the Texas portion of the funding later this week. “But we’re joining arms with everyone affected by the hurricanes. I think that’s the right thing to do," Cornyn said.

President Donald Trump plans to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday, two days after lashing out at "ingrates" criticizing the federal government’s hurricane-recovery efforts there. Residents of the U.S. commonwealth are continuing to struggle to put their island back on its feet. Only 45 percent of customers had access to drinkable water, according to the president’s homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert. Critics have said the administration has been slow to react and disorganized on the ground.

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said Monday that Congress should provide about $15 billion in initial aid for the crisis in Puerto Rico, and he accused the administration of treating the needs of island residents as less important than those of storm victims in Florida and Texas.

“There seems to be a double standard for disaster relief: one for the mainland and one for Puerto Rico,” he said.

Blumenthal and fellow Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts were briefed by officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies involved in the recovery.

Warren said the briefing “did not leave me feeling encouraged,” in part because the administration didn’t say how much funding would be needed to address the crisis. The White House is expected to issue an aid request for Maria and the other hurricanes that hit the U.S. later this month.

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