Trump continues to mislead on immigration and Puerto Rico disaster funding
During his rally in Florida Wednesday night, President Donald Trump hit on a lot of familiar themes — the strong economy, building the wall, defeating ISIS and the 2020 election.
Among his “greatest hits,” Trump also repeated several false claims he’s made in the past.
First, the President claimed that Puerto Rico had received $91 billion after being hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, adding that was the highest amount ever given to “anybody” for disaster relief.
Facts first: This is false. Not only has Puerto Rico not received $91 billion, even if it had that figure would still fall below the amount of federal money allocated to recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina. In addition, Trump has opposed efforts in Congress to increase disaster relief funding, in part because some of the money would go to Puerto Rico.
So far, roughly $42 billion in federal disaster relief funding has been allocated to Puerto Rico. Only about a quarter of that ($12 billion) has actually been spent.
The $91 billion Trump cites is based on estimated future spending. As administration officials told the Washington Post, the additional $50 billion comes from an “internal Office of Management and Budget estimate of the potential liabilities over the life of the disaster that would need to be committed under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988.”
In other words, the $91 billion is simply an estimate of what FEMA would have to spend to rebuild Puerto Rico, not what’s been allocated. This all comes as Congress battles over $17 billion in additional disaster fund relief, which includes funds for Puerto Rico.
In remarks Thursday afternoon, Trump repeated his $91 billion claims, again stating that Puerto Rico has gotten more money than it actually has.
The theoretical $91 billion is still less than the $114.5 billion the federal government spent on recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, causing an estimated $160 billion in economic damage.