President Trump had long resisted signing off on disaster funding for Puerto Rico and several other states, recently claiming he'd only approve the bill if it included $4.5 billion in border wall money. But on Thursday, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said Trump had agreed with Democrats to sign the bill, no border funding necessary, NBC News reports.
Puerto Rico has yet to recover from Hurricane Maria's 2017 devastation, with things getting even worse in March when Congress and Trump failed to renew additional food stamp aid for the island. Trump later claimed Puerto Rico got $91 billion in funding and, despite that number being not quite accurate, argued the island didn't need any more money. Thursday's agreement, though, seems to mark a change of pace.
The bipartisan bill, which Shelby credited Trump for "break[ing] the gridlock" and agreeing to in a Thursday press release, gives Puerto Rico an additional $605 million for the food stamp Nutrition Assistance Program and $304 million to Community Development Block Grants. It also contains a provision forcing Trump to allow $8.9 billion in withheld aid to get to Puerto Rico, and another provision "ensuring more damaged facilities in Puerto Rico will be repaired or replaced," per a bill breakdown from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Billions of dollars in other aid will go toward flooding, hurricane, and wildfire damage on the mainland. Kathryn Krawczyk