The Trump administration asked Congress Friday for just $44 billion dollars in hurricane relief for victims of Harvey, Irma, and Maria — a lot less money than officials say they need to rebuild.
And they’re not happy. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican who’d asked for Congress to pony up $61 billion in Hurricane Harvey relief, called the request “wholly inadequate.” Oregon Democrat Rep. Ron Wyden and New Jersey Democrat Rep. Frank Pallone said the request marked ”a dereliction of duty by the Trump administration to American citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that need our help.” And New York Democrat Democrat Chuck Schumer slammed it as “just not good enough.”
“Frankly, after the outpouring of sympathy and the expressions of concern that we’ve heard from the highest levels here in Washington, D.C., we have continually been told to wait, wait, wait,” Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn told the Houston Chronicle Thursday night, before the request.
The request marks the third time that the White House has asked for hurricane relief, and would bring the amount of requested money up to nearly $100 billion. But that’s not nearly enough — in addition to Abbott’s request, Florida has asked for $27 billion and Puerto Rico $94.4 billion for their respective rebuilding efforts. (And that’s Puerto Rico’s “conservative” estimate.)
White House spokesperson Sander Huckabee Sanders said Friday that the $44 billion request isn’t meant to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. The White House is still assessing the extent of the island’s damage, she said, weeks after Hurricane Maria knocked out much of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure. Half of the island remains without power, and about a fifth of its residents still don’t have access to clean water.
As for the Texas estimate, Sanders said that “up until this point Texas has not put any state dollars into this process. We feel strongly that they should step up and play a role and work with the federal government in this process.”
Abbott’s office pointed out, however, that Texas has already spent or will be required to spend more than $1 billion in Harvey relief.