Trump announces 13 billion dollars in emergency relief to Puerto Rico

Donald Trump wearing a hat U.S. President Donald Trump walks off Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House returning from California after viewing damage from that state's wildfires

Donald Trump wearing a hat U.S. President Donald Trump walks off Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House returning from California after viewing damage from that state's wildfires

President Donald Trump announced a new aid package for Puerto Rico on Friday, and drew swift condemnation on Twitter for his sudden interest in providing assistance for disasters that happened three years ago - but affecting a key voting demographic mere weeks before the November elections.

"We used to have pharmaceutical manufacturing at levels that few places had, and a lot of it has left Puerto Rico, and we're going to bring that back", Trump said, pointing to the growing movement to return drug manufacturing from countries such as China.

It also released $2 billion for the Puerto Rico Department of Education to fix schools across the island.

Trump's plan was announced Friday afternoon at a press conference at the White House concerning an overall $13 billion aid package allotted by FEMA to the territory.

A person on horseback passes a sports arena damaged during Hurricane Maria in Vieques, Puerto Rico, on January 25, 2019, 17 months after the storm. Both parties are courting the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans who have settled in Florida, America's largest swing state.

In August 2019, the Department of Housing and Urban Development placed restrictions on the flow of aid to Puerto Rico.

The White House also fended off criticism over a rebuilding contract won by a Montana firm that had ties to Trump's interior secretary at the time.

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It's unclear where the other $1.4 billion in funding comes from.

Earlier this year, HUD released its hold on more than $8 billion in aid, which was supposed to reach the island last September.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, in a statement Friday morning, said the funds were "overdue" and criticized the response by the Trump administration. In 2018, an internal FEMA report found that the agency failed to properly prepare for the previous year's hurricane season and did not adequately support the affected regions.

The latest funds are in addition to the $49.9 billion in aid that Congress has approved since Hurricane Maria raked the USA commonwealth.

Democrats are raising questions about the timing. "After the storms utterly destroyed the grid, it created an opportunity to rebuild a cleaner, cheaper and more resilient energy system, but the Trump administration dithered and delayed and refused to deliver timely disaster aid for the people of Puerto Rico", he said. "Now, forty-six days before the election, the Administration has finally seen fit to release these funds".

"Our legacy during this administration - and for the people of Puerto Rico - is the complete reconstruction of the island, starting with the power company and education", said Vazquez, who recently lost in her party's primary and will soon leave office.

Puerto Rico is known for being incompetent and wasteful in handling disaster relief.

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