- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 6, 2019

President Trump said Thursday that he signed the emergency disaster relief bill into law — and claimed credit for getting money for Puerto Rico.

Mr. Trump had fought Democrats for months to block funding for the island territory, but said the more than $1.4 billion in money aimed at Puerto Rico wouldn’t have happened without him.

Puerto Rico should love President Trump,” he tweeted. “Without me, they would have been shut out!”

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill say the reality is just the opposite.

Exactly a month ago on Twitter Mr. Trump complained that Democrats were trying to give too much money to Puerto Rico.

He said he wanted money for U.S. states hit by floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires or other disasters.

Mr. Trump said he’d already earmarked $91 billion for Puerto Rico to recover from a disastrous Category 5 storm that slammed into the island in 2017, leaving thousands dead.

The administration has struggled to defend Mr. Trump’s $91 billion claim, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Democratic vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said it was Mr. Trump’s “direction to not provide a dollar of additional aid to Puerto Rico” that delayed the disaster bill for months.

“Democrats have said from the beginning, the president cannot pick and choose which American citizens to help in the aftermath of a disaster,” Mr. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said.

The new law includes money for food assistance and emergency rebuilding.

Overall the legislation, which cleared Congress on Monday, contains $19.1 billion for the whole country.

It did not, however, including $4.5 billion Mr. Trump had sought to address the border crisis.

In a statement Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that extra money must be approved “as rapidly as possible.”

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