Trump repeats relief funding lie as Tropical Storm Dorian approaches Puerto Rico

The president claims $92 billion has been distributed to Puerto Rico. It’s only been a fraction of that.

President Donald Trump is already trying to avoid responsibility for providing relief aid to Puerto Rico for a storm that hasn’t even impacted the island yet. In a tweet Tuesday, Trump repeated a lie that the island territory has already received far more aid than it actually had, and seemed to blame Puerto Rico for its own fate.

“Will it ever end?” Trump wrote, seemingly speaking more about the relief costs than the catastrophic weather. “Congress approved 92 Billion Dollars for Puerto Rico last year, an all time record of its kind for ‘anywhere’.”

Wow! Yet another big storm heading to Puerto Rico. Will it ever end? Congress approved 92 Billion Dollars for Puerto Rico last year, an all time record of its kind for “anywhere.”

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2019

Earlier this year, Trump claimed that Puerto Rico had received $91 billion, so he seems to have inflated the number by a billion. But his claim that Puerto Rico had already received that much money, or that it had otherwise been spent — as insinuated again by his tweet Tuesday — is demonstrably false. The federal government’s own records tell a very different story.

It’s true that Congress has allocated a large sum of money, but that was still only around $42 billion — $50 billion short of Trump’s latest number.

So far, federal agencies are committed (“obligated”) to spending about $20 billion of that, meaning that half of the funds haven’t even been touched. Even that figure only speaks to how much of the money has been budgeted. Since Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico two years ago, only about $13 billion has actually been spent repairing the island. This represents a seventh of Trump’s claim.

When Trump first told his $91 billion-dollar lie in April, he added his own random estimate of an additional $50 billion for “estimated future FEMA costs over the life of the disaster.” In other words, Trump just assumed of his own accord that repairing Puerto Rico was going to cost more than twice what had been allocated — and then claimed that such a total had already been spent. (truncated)

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