Trump Administration Blocked Investigation Into Why Hurricane Aid For Puerto Rico Was Halted
The Trump administration delayed giving Puerto Rico roughly $20 billion in relief funds after the 2017 hurricane, according to a report released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inspector general on Thursday.
Congress set aside around $67 billion in aid for the hurricane, but only about $17.8 billion, or less than a third of the amount, has been disbursed.
Access to HUD information was delayed or denied, and consequently the funds did not reach Puerto Rico, the IG said in his report.
Ben Carson, former HUD Secretary, and other former department officials declined interviews and failed to give information about decisions during the investigation.
Hurricane Maria battered the island and killed nearly 3,000 people in 2017. During Trump’s presidency, he denied any wrongdoing in how he handled the disaster and instead praised his actions, calling it “an incredible, unsung success.”
HUD announced that they would be lifting the restriction put in place during the Trump administration that prevented Puerto Rico from accessing the remaining recovery funds. The change would release $8.2 billion in approved Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funds and would be used to combat future disasters.
An investigation into the Trump administration’s response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico will be re-launched by the House Oversight Committee.