It’s an important step toward getting the billions of dollars in disaster aid that we desperately need to respond to the last two years of climate fueled super storms. Ironically, the vote happened minutes after a tornado warning sounded in the US Capitol itself, and hours after tornadoes killed at least three people in Missouri – a dark reminder that climate change is powering stronger storms all over the U.S.
But while the vote was nearly unanimous: 85 to 8 in the Senate, Trump’s support is still not guaranteed. That’s because the bill gives $19.1 billion to help communities ravaged by climate chaos – from the floods in Nebraska to wildfires in California – including $900 million for Puerto Rico to recover from Hurricane Maria.
Trump has been objecting for months to the money for Puerto Rico, and had also demanded money for his racist border wall. And all that was before he flew off the handle this week in a meeting over infrastructure and said he’d block everything until the House stops investigating his crimes and misdemeanors.
When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico a year ago, more than 3,000 Americans lost their lives. Now, as Puerto Rican communities try to rebuild, Trump has continued to lie and spout racist tirades while denying Puerto Ricans access to critical federal recovery funds. Congress has taken the first step, after months of partisan gridlock, to provide Puerto Ricans with aid including funds for expanded infrastructure rebuilding efforts and food assistance programs.
Now the ball is in Trump’s court. It would be the height of grotesque racism for the president to veto the whole aid package because some U.S. citizens “deserve” help after a natural disaster more than others. And any denial or attempt to line-item veto Puerto Rico’s funds will make all our communities vulnerable the next time a disaster strikes. For decades, Congress has acted across party lines to provide disaster relief to ALL U.S. communities without prejudice or partisan bias. With another hurricane season starting earlier than ever due to climate change, it is essential that this bill to support Puerto Rican communities and prepare for future storms pass now.