Senators Reach Agreement on Puerto Rico Aid

Senators from both sides of the aisle indicated Monday that they have come to an agreement on aid for the hurricane hit island of Puerto Rico, a development which signals that they are moving towards a bipartisan deal on a disaster relief package.

However, despite support by both GOP and Democratic senators, the Puerto Rico agreement is not guaranteed to be signed by President Donald Trump. Trump has long claimed the island misuses the aid it has previously been provided, opposing additional funding.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, who expressed concerns that the agreement may not get the backing of the President, met with Trump and other White House officials on Monday to discuss disaster aid and raising budget caps, The Hill writes.  

Asked if President Trump would stand behind the agreement, Shelby said, “I don’t believe he said that.”

“The President didn’t say that. That question was not asked. He just wanted to know how close we were,” the chairman added.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer praised his Republican colleagues, saying that he was glad they “have finally seen the light and not treated Puerto Rico unfairly.” Schumer noted they had reached “a conclusion” on talks for recovery assistance, which was also confirmed by one of Shelby’s aides.

The initial Republican bill included $600 million in food stamps aid, but Democrats demanded amendments be made to also include funding to help the island repair its water systems. A subsequent GOP offer included an additional $300 million rebuilding assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Developments for Puerto Rico.

“It would streamline the accessibility to money. A lot of it was there. It would be a little more money, but there’s a lot of money there that they could access for infrastructure and everything else,” said Shelby when asked if the final agreement was in line with the agreed funding.

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