President Trump has asked top advisers for ways he can limit federal spending going to Puerto Rico, saying it is "ridiculous" how much money is going to food stamp recipients on the island, senior administration officials told The Washington Post in a Monday report.
Trump first asked how to keep money from going to Puerto Rico during a Feb. 22 meeting in the Oval Office, the officials said. He argued the money should stay on the mainland, and and that no amount will fix the issues facing Puerto Rico. "He doesn't want another single dollar going to the island," a senior administration official said to the Post.
After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017, the federal government gave extra food stamp aid to the island. Because Puerto Rico is not a state, it funds programs like food stamps and Medicaid through block grants that have to be regularly renewed by Washington.
Congress missed its deadline this month to reauthorize food stamp aid, and about 1.3 million already-struggling people in Puerto Rico saw a reduction in their benefits. House Democrats in January approved giving an additional $600 million in food stamp funding to Puerto Rico, but that stalled in the Senate, and the Trump administration released a letter calling this aid "excessive and unnecessary," the Post reports.
It's not excessive to people like Myrna Izquierdo, who runs the nonprofit Casa Ismael clinic in Toa Baja. The clinic, which serves HIV-positive men and is still damaged from Hurricane Maria, relies on food stamp money from patients. Because of the cuts, Izquierdo says they have to find ways to save money — including not being able to change diapers that have been soiled. "We just don't have the money right now," she told the Post. "It's very hard. It's so unfair. That cut is going to kill us."
To read more about how the cuts are affecting Puerto Rico, visit The Washington Post.