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Dems: Trump's $13B Aid to Puerto Rico Is for Votes

3 years after hurricanes, some say surprise relief package is 'too little and too late'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2020 8:15 AM CDT

(Newser) – In 2017, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico. It took nearly a year to restore power to the entire island, with a final death toll said to be around 3,000, though Trump has pushed back on that number. Now, three years after the storms, the president is claiming he's long been a valuable ally to the territory. He also made a surprising announcement Friday, one that the Washington Post calls a "sharp reversal" from the way he's previously approached dealing with the island: an aid package worth nearly $13 billion to help the island get back on its feet, with $9.6 billion of the Federal Emergency Management Agency funds going toward fixing Puerto Rico's electrical grid, and a separate $2 billion grant set aside to help rebuild schools.

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"I'm the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico," Trump said at a Friday presser at the White House. "Nobody even close." Both the Post and the New York Times document why many may take issue with that claim, noting such things as Trump's infighting with the territory's leaders, his administration's slowdown of aid to the island, and reports that Trump at one point wanted to sell Puerto Rico to Denmark in exchange for Greenland. And why such a long delay? The Post calls his aid move a "brazenly political" one "that comes as his reelection campaign increasingly relies on winning Florida with support from its Latino communities." Tatiana Matta, the Latino adviser to Joe Biden's campaign, agrees. "For the thousands of families who had to leave the island, for all those we've lost, for those who still struggle every day to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, it is three years too little and too late," she says. (Read more Puerto Rico stories.)

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