The White House received more than $ 8 billion in hurricane Maria recovery money withheld during the term of former President Donald Trump in Puerto Rico on Monday, “troublesome” on how to access and use a larger pool of disaster relief He said he had removed the restrictions.
The integrated move is the latest action by President Joe Biden’s administration to loosely reset the relationship between the federal government and territory and release billions of dollars in financial aid after being approved by Congress.
Marcia Fudge, Executive Director of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, said in a statement: Accountability. “
Of the approximately $ 67 billion parliamentary aid allocated in response to the 2017 storm About $ 17.8 billion, Or less than one-third of the amount paid.
The money being released comes from the agency Community Development Block Subsidy Mitigation Program, Designed to help the island build resilience to future disasters.
Governor Pedro Pierluisi of the island welcomed the development.
“No doubt this is great news for public relations,” said Pier Luisi. On twitter.. “By this [local housing department] This is to streamline the work and invest effectively in the restoration of the island. “
Named Federal Housing Agency Internal monitor Oversee emergency assistance on the island in January 2020. The Biden administration announced on Monday that it would eliminate the need for a financial monitor review. It also eliminates additional grant obligations and additional oversight from the Island’s Treasury Supervisory Board.
During February $ 1.3 billion federal funding approved, Also from the same HUD program. The limit was relaxed for an additional $ 4.9 billion. Later, a federal official described the development in the Miami Herald as “resetting the relationship” between Puerto Rico and Washington. March, US Department of Education Release nearly $ 1 billion in federal funding To assist island schools in responding to recent emergencies, including pandemics.
White House spokesman Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that the action to release aid and lift restrictions is “the latest in ongoing government-wide efforts to help restore and renew the island.” Said.
A series of complex natural disasters have devastated Puerto Rico over the past few years. Hurricane Maria in September 2017 Killed thousands, Destroy and forge critical infrastructure Estimated $ 90 billion in damages. Then, in December 2019, a series of earthquakes struck the southwestern part of the island, causing many to lose their homes or live in damaged homes.Coronavirus Killed more than 2,000 people The people of Puerto Rico soon followed.
Playing cards —Former HUD Secretary Ben Carson— Repeatedly expressed concern about possible mismanagement of aid within the island’s municipalities.Former President was called Puerto Rico “One of the most corrupt places on earth” And his administration has established strict protection against disaster funding.
Since taking office, the Biden administration has been working to break bureaucratic formalism and overturn Trump-era policies in the way Puerto Rico has access to relief supplies.Biden Campaign Puerto Rico Plan We have promised to order the HUD and other federal agencies to work with the island’s government to ensure that federal funds are “developed efficiently.”
Reflecting the president’s promise, Fudge added, “The administration is committed to an ongoing partnership with Puerto Rico to empower the island’s communities and help them recover better.”