STOLEN THUNDER! Puerto Rico’s Governor Asks For Its Billions Ahead of Sleepy Mapp … Who Headed For The Bar At His Five-Star Hotel As Soon As He Got To D.C.
WASHINGTON — Puerto Rico’s governor got the jump on the territory on Monday when asked the federal government for $94.4 billion ahead of the Virgin Islands.
Gov. Ricardo Rossello said during a news conference that he will still formally make his request to the White House and Congress, along with a report with a detailed assessment of damage.
Rossello is seeking $46 billion to restore housing through the Community Development Block Grant program, $30 billion within the Federal Emergency Management Agency to recover critical infrastructure and $17.9 billion in other federal grant programs for long-term recovery.
Puerto Rico is trying to recover from the damage inflicted by Hurricane Maria, with much of the U.S. commonwealth without power — and thousands still homeless.
The Puerto Rico governor also urged Congress to adopt a tax overhaul plan that addresses Puerto Rico’s specific needs to avoid an exodus of the companies that currently generate 42 percent of the island’s gross domestic product.
So far, Congress has approved nearly $5 billion in aid for Puerto Rico, where Hurricane Maria caused widespread damage on Sept. 20 and the worst blackout in U.S. history.
The request from Puerto Rico surpasses the $61 billion that Texas is pursuing from the federal government for infrastructure improvements.
“This is a transformative moment in the history of Puerto Rico,” Rosello wrote to President Donald Trump. “We recognize that your leadership, along with that of leaders from both parties, will be essential to our recovery, and the future economic and fiscal health of the island.”
The contract was canceled on Oct. 29 amid bipartisan criticism from members of Congress and a request by Rossello to void the deal.
Rosello announced that his team will create a portal that will allow the public to track the status of recovery and funds. That is part of an effort to placate concerns after the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority selected Whitefish Energy Holdings to help rebuild the island’s electrical system, even though it had just two employees when the hurricane struck.
On the tax front, Rosello asked Congress to exclude Puerto Rico from a proposed excise tax of 20 percent for merchandise manufactured abroad because products manufactured in Puerto Rico and imported into the U.S. should be treated as domestic products.
Republicans hope to finalize a tax overhaul by Christmas and send the legislation to Trump for his signature.
“If the goal of the tax reform is to create American jobs, then Puerto Rico must be taken into consideration,” Rossello said. “If not, it would end up being worst than how it is today.”