A worker cleans up fallen pecan trees damaged by Hurricane Michael months earlier at Pippin Farm in Albany. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Donald Trump urges disaster relief for ‘great farmers’ – but not Puerto Rico

On Twitter – where else? -- President Donald Trump on Monday plugged a disaster relief bill aimed at Georgia and many other areas of the country that’s become mired in the U.S. Senate:

Democrats should stop fighting Sen. David Perdue’s disaster relief bill. They are blocking funding and relief for our great farmers and rural America!

The office of U.S. Sen. David Perdue quickly thanked the president via press release. From Perdue:

“Every day we continue debating disaster relief is a day people across the country face crippling uncertainty. It’s time to put aside individual political interests and pass this disaster relief bill for Americans who are depending on us.”

Couple things:

-- Notice that Trump called it “David Perdue’s disaster relief bill.” The bill, which locally would target rural victims of last year’s Hurricane Michael, has actually been a joint project of both Perdue and his Georgia colleague, Johnny Isakson. Which tells you that there may be some lingering resentment in the White House over Isakson’s condemnation of the president’s “deplorable” remarks about the late U.S. Sen. John McCain.

In his thank-you press release, Perdue was careful to share the credit with Isakson.

-- Both Trump and Perdue skipped over the primary obstacle the disaster relief bill has faced: The president’s antipathy toward more relief for Puerto Rico, which remains devastated by back-to-back hurricanes in 2017, and Senate Democratic support for the same. This Washington Post article has the background that includes these paragraphs:

The federal government provided additional food-stamp aid to Puerto Rico after the hurricane, but Congress missed the deadline for reauthorization in March as it focused on other issues before leaving for a week-long recess. Federal lawmakers have also been stalled by the Trump administration, which has derided the extra aid as unnecessary.

Now, about 43 percent of Puerto Rico’s residents are grappling with a sudden cut to a benefit they rely on for groceries and other essentials.

And while Congress may address this issue soon, the lapse underscores the broader vulnerability of Puerto Rico’s economy, as well as key parts of its safety net, to the whims of an increasingly hostile federal government with which it has feuded over key priorities.

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About the Author

Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.