White House to submit $44 billion disaster request Friday

Damage from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Photo Date: 9/20/17
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is sending Congress a $44 billion disaster aid request Friday that will fall short of demands from hurricane-slammed Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

Congressional aides briefed on the request required anonymity to discuss it in advance of its release.

The request, President Donald Trump’s third since hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria slammed the Gulf Coast and Caribbean, would bring the total appropriated for hurricane relief this fall close to $100 billion.

The new installment would add $24 billion to the government’s chief disaster account and establish a new $12 billion grant program for flood risk mitigation projects.

But Friday’s measure won’t contain much money for Puerto Rico, as the administration awaits estimates. Gov. Ricardo Rossello has requested $94 billion, including $18 billion to rebuild the island’s power grid and $31 billion for housing. The White House anticipates sending another request focused on the needs of the island territory but hasn’t indicated when that would be.

Texas and Florida are also sure to be disappointed. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott submitted a $61 billion request to Trump last month for Harvey-related damages, including ambitious requests for flood control and navigation projects. The Florida congressional delegation has asked for $27 billion.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said his office has been briefed on the measure, which he called “wholly inadequate.”

Late Thursday, Trump approved a disaster declaration for Alabama, ordering federal assistance to areas damaged by Hurricane Nate in early October.



 
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