Puerto Rico’s representative in Congress says it is “unacceptable” for President Donald Trump to consider taking billions of dollars slated for disaster response in the U.S. territory to help build a border wall. She said to do so amounts to “playing with our pain and hope.”
A congressional official said Thursday the White House has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to look for billions of dollars earmarked last year for disaster response for Puerto Rico and other areas that could be diverted to a border wall.
Jenniffer Gonzalez said Friday that the island still has not received $2.5 billion in funds even though more than a year has passed since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm.
She says, “To use this now as a political football is not what U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico deserve.”
The money was set aside for projects including channeling rivers to prevent flooding, which has long been a widespread problem for the U.S. territory, especially during the Atlantic’s six-month hurricane season.
President Donald Trump is edging closer to declaring a national emergency to fund his long-promised border wall, as pressure mounts to find an escape hatch from the three-week impasse that has closed parts of the government, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers without pay.
Some 800,000 workers, more than half of them still on the job, will miss their first paycheck on Friday under the stoppage, and Washington is close to setting a dubious record for the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. That left some Republicans on Capitol Hill increasingly uncomfortable with Trump’s demands.
Asked about the plight of those going without pay, the president shifted the focus, saying he felt badly “for people that have family members that have been killed” by criminals who came over the border.