President Donald Trump reportedly wants to stop providing federal relief funds to Puerto Rico for recovery efforts related to Hurricane Maria.
Axios’ Jonathan Swan reports that Trump is convinced – “without evidence,” Swan says – that government officials in Puerto Rico are improperly using relief funds to pay of the island’s substantial and problematic debt.
The source of Trump’s belief appears to be a Wall Street Journal article published in October that says prices for bonds issued by Puerto Rico “soared” following the release of a new fiscal plan that projects increased federal relief funding and higher economic growth. An unnamed source told Axios that “Trump misinterpreted the Journal article, concluding falsely that the Puerto Rican government was using disaster relief funds to pay down debt.”
Trump also reportedly said he wanted to cut off some relief funds that had already been appropriated for Puerto Rico, although he does not have the power to do so. He may, however, refuse to approve future appropriations for further disaster relief.
Hurricane Maria, which hit the island in September 2017, is the most destructive storm ever to strike Puerto Rico and one of the deadliest storms in U.S. history. The federal government has spent about $6 billion on relief so far, and expects to spend about $55 billion in total, Axios said.