What’s causing the delay in disaster relief? Here’s what really happened behind closed doors
Our country has suffered a series of unprecedented natural disasters over the last year. Hurricanes in the Southeast, wildfires in California, earthquakes in Alaska, and floods in the Midwest have left millions of Americans in desperate need of help from the federal government.
Congress had an opportunity to pass a $13.6 billion disaster aid package that would have provided immediate assistance to people who are suffering. Senate Democrats voted against it.
Why? Democrats said Republicans were unwilling to provide adequate funding for Puerto Rico. That is absolutely ridiculous.
Here’s what really happened behind closed doors:
Last December, disaster aid got caught up in the border security debate and was left out of the spending bill. Senate Republicans went back to Senate Democrats to see what was needed in order to make a deal on disaster relief as soon as possible.
It was determined that $600 million to extend the food assistance program in Puerto Rico was most critical since the program was set to expire at the end of March.
I personally brought this updated request to the president, and he agreed to it.
We added the $600 million to our bill in the Senate, and then we voted on April 1st. I wish this was the end of the story. It’s not.
Democrats cowered to their political self-interests and their leadership and killed our disaster relief bill on the floor of the United States Senate.
We gave Democrats exactly what they asked for, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., decided to change course and hold disaster relief victims hostage in a misguided effort to extract concessions from Republicans on a number of unrelated topics, including border security.
Schumer watched carefully as Democratic senators cast their votes on the disaster relief bill. After the senior senator from California, Dianne Feinstein, voted “yes” on the bill – which includes billions for her state – the Democratic leader pulled her aside and then she switched her vote to “no.” At the same time, the other Democratic senator from California, Kamala Harris, was in Nevada campaigning for president and missed the vote entirely. This kind of blind partisanship is exactly what the American people find unacceptable about Washington.
Now, Democrats have started a campaign of manufactured outrage and have purposely misled the American people for their own political gain. They’re pushing headlines like, “Trump’s Grudge Against Puerto Rico Is Blocking Needed Disaster Aid Across The US.” That could not be further from the truth.
President Trump has been resolute in his support of the people of Puerto Rico.
The president has already approved $41 billion in combined disaster aid for Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the Island. He has also made an additional $50 billion available to Puerto Rico going forward.
As a result, Puerto Rico is set to receive three times more funding than Texas did for Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and nearly double what was appropriated for Hurricane Sandy in 2013.
It’s clear this fight has nothing to do with Puerto Rico funding. For Democrats, this is about obstructing the president and preventing him from keeping his promise to help the American people recover after hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires ravaged their communities.
People in my state have been waiting on federal disaster aid for six months. While the Democratic Leader and his members play politics, Georgia farmers are going bankrupt, California wildfire victims are struggling to rebuild, and Puerto Rican families are losing access to food benefits.
If Democrats truly cared about the people of Puerto Rico, maybe they would listen to them. Puerto Rico’s own representative in Congress, Jenniffer González-Colón, said our bill provides exactly what her constituents need. Specifically, she said, “I urge swift Senate passage of the $600 million funding for the Nutrition Assistance Program. Over 1.3 million of my constituents are already experiencing cuts in their food benefits. Puerto Rico needs this funding and needs it now.”
I’m sick and tired of politicians that claim to be looking out for the little guys, but all they do is treat them like pawns in their power games. Democrats claim they want to be bipartisan, but time and time again, they fail to rise to the occasion.
Democrats may think they’re sticking it to the president, but they’re actually sticking it to the American people. Georgians are paying attention and will not forget how Democrats have abandoned them in their time of need. Mark my words, the American people will remember how President Trump is standing up and fighting for them.
United States Senator David Perdue is the junior senator from Georgia and the only Fortune 500 CEO in Congress. He serves on the Armed Services, Budget, Agriculture, and Banking Committees.