WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The White House announced a $13 billion aid package for Puerto Rico on Friday, three years after the U.S. territory was hit by a devastating Category 5 hurricane.
“I’m the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico,” President Donald Trump said Friday.
The multi-billion-dollar FEMA grant is set to rebuild the territory’s electric grid and modernize schools that were crumbling long before Hurricane Maria hit the island.
“The Trump administration has been committed to the recovery of Puerto Rico since the storms hit in 2017,” Rear Admiral Peter Brown said.
Brown, the president’s special representative for Puerto Rico’s Disaster Recovery, said after years of waiting, the timing has nothing to do with the election that is now just weeks away.
“The timing is purely based on when these fixed costs estimates could be processed,” Brown added.
The aid package comes almost exactly three years after Hurricane Maria hit the United States territory. Democrats said that’s too long.
“The timing of this disbursement begs to ask if Trump withheld the funds for political reasons,” Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL) said.
The Illinois Democrat said it’s hard to separate the politics from this announcement with many Puerto Ricans living in the swing state of Florida.
On Twitter, Florida Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor said President Trump didn’t respond to bipartisan calls for aid in 2017 and that “Trump is no friend to Puerto Rico.”
The president also said he wants to see more pharmaceutical manufacturing return to Puerto Rico.
“I think it will be unbelievable for Puerto Rico,” Trump said.
The rebuilding process is expected to begin next year.