The Puerto Rican Government Faces A ‘Total Shutdown’ If Congress Doesn’t Quickly Deliver Emergency Funds

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Earlier this week, President Trump visited hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, where he bizarrely tossed paper towels and almost hurled cans of chicken at residents. The major of San Juan was not impressed by the president’s showmanship, especially after he “joked” that the territory was draining the U.S. budget. However, Puerto Rico’s already precarious financial situation — including a decade-long recession — has been further decimated by the disaster recovery process to the point of a possible “total shutdown” of the government

As of a few days ago, the Trump administration asked Congress to send $10 billion to the U.S. territory, but Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that there’s no indication of when this package could be approved. Meanwhile, Puerto Rican Treasury Secretary Raul Maldonado warns that the island has nearly torn through the $1.6 billion that it had on reserve before Hurricane Maria struck, and after that, the government cannot continue to run:

“I don’t have any collections, and we are spending a lot of money providing direct assistance for the emergency. Without the assistance from Congress, Puerto Rico’s government will not be able to operate next month … You have conservatively over 100,000 homes that are destroyed here.”

Maldonado says that with all residents focused on recovery of their homes and businesses, there will be “zero revenue” coming in for months to fund disaster relief, let alone to fund everyday government expenditures. He hopes that Congress will act fast and send at least “a few months” worth of cash. Senators Cory Booker, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz have all expressed “solidarity” with Maldonado in discussions, but Congress must send the money before October 31, or the shutdown will happen.

Meanwhile, CBS News Correspondent David Begnaud is speaking out after spending two weeks in Puerto Rico. He stated that during Trump’s visit, he “didn’t see the worst of it.” For whatever reason, Begnaud says, Trump “never saw the areas of the island where people are still bathing in stream water and drinking from it.” Perhaps this omission was down to sheer logistics (not to mention safety reasons), but that sight might have prompted Trump to push for quicker action by Congress.

(Via Bloomberg, Washington Post & CBS News)

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