Meanwhile, Puerto Rico continues to suffer 18 months after Hurricane Maria and the Trump regime has all but abandoned the island and its people.
The federal government provided additional food-stamp aid to Puerto Rico after the hurricane, but Congress missed the deadline for reauthorization in March as it focused on other issues before leaving for a week-long recess. Federal lawmakers have also been stalled by the Trump administration, which has derided the extra aid as unnecessary.
Now, about 43 percent of Puerto Rico’s residents are grappling with a sudden cut to a benefit they rely on for groceries and other essentials.
And while Congress may address this issue soon, the lapse underscores the broader vulnerability of Puerto Rico’s economy, as well as key parts of its safety net, to the whims of an increasingly hostile federal government with which it has feuded over key priorities.
Puerto Rico will again need the federal government’s help to stave off drastic cuts to Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor and disabled, as well as for the disbursement of billions in hurricane relief aid that has not yet been turned over to the island.
The island would not need Congress to step in to fund its food-stamp and Medicaid programs if it were a state. For states, the federal government has committed to funding those programs’ needs, whatever the cost and without needing to take a vote. But Puerto Rico instead funds its programs through a block grant from the federal government, which needs to be regularly renewed, and also gives food-stamp benefits about 40 percent smaller than those of states.
After initially vowing to reject the food-stamp funding, President Trump has agreed to the emergency request to help Senate Republicans pass a broader disaster-relief package, which may be taken up for a vote this week.
But at an Oval Office meeting on Feb. 22, Trump asked top advisers for ways to limit federal support from going to Puerto Rico, believing it is taking money that should be going to the mainland, according to senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the presidents’ private remarks.
The meeting — an afternoon session focused on Department of Housing and Urban Development grants — ended abruptly, and Trump has continued to ask aides how much money the island will get. Then, Trump said he wanted the money to only fortify the electric grid there.
Trump has also privately signaled he will not approve any additional help for Puerto Rico beyond the food-stamp money, setting up a congressional showdown with Democrats who have pushed for more expansive help for the island.
A senior administration official with direct knowledge of the meeting described Trump’s stance: “He doesn’t want another single dollar going to the island.”
Trump doesn't consider Puerto Rico to be part of America. He thinks it's a foreign country, along with tens of millions of his cult. They continue to suffer in squalor and pain and the titular leader of the country wants them to all rot in hell.
After all, they can't vote for him. So why should he care if they live or die?
If Trump could end federal dollars to California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and Hawaii overnight, he's do it in a heartbeat.
Hell, he still might.