Apr 1, 2019

Democrats derail Senate disaster relief bill amid clash over Puerto Rico

Two weeks after Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico in 2017. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Senate Democrats on Monday blocked a key vote on a $13.5 billion disaster-recovery funding measure amid an escalating fallout over hurricane-battered Puerto Rico.

Details: The massive bill passed by the House in January would allocate funding to states like Florida and North Carolina, which were hit last year by hurricanes. Senate Republicans have also added funds for victims in the Midwest affected by flooding last month. But Democrats argue that the $600 million for nutrition assistance to Puerto Rico under the bill is insufficient, and that the island is in urgent need of more funds for disaster relief and to rebuild its water system.

The big picture: President Trump doesn't want to give Puerto Rico any more federal money for its recovery from Hurricane Maria, claiming in private — without evidence — that the island’s government is using federal disaster relief money to pay off debt. He told Senate Republicans at a lunch last week that Puerto Rico has already received more disaster funding than many U.S., though the figure he cited was inaccurate, the Washington Post reports.

What they're saying:

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): "This is no time for our colleagues across the aisle to prioritize a political fight with the president ahead of the urgent needs of communities across our country."
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.): "Republicans must remember that — just as we leave no soldier behind on the battlefield — we help our fellow Americans when there’s a disaster, wherever the disaster strikes. We do not abandon them. Period."
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa): "To my colleagues across the aisle who have been spending a lot of time in Iowa lately as presidential candidates ... how are you going to look Iowans in the eye and justify a vote against moving this disaster relief bill ahead?"

Go deeper: Trump wants no more relief funds for Puerto Rico

Go deeper

Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 5,936,145 — Total deaths: 358,235 — Total recoveries — 2,389,056Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 1,715,811 — Total deaths: 101,196 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. Public health: The mystery of coronavirus superspreaders.
  4. Congress: Pelosi slams McConnell on stimulus delay — Sen. Tim Kaine and wife test positive for coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Axios on HBO: Science fiction writers tell us how they see the coronavirus pandemic.
  6. 🏃‍♀️Sports: Boston Marathon canceled after initial postponement, asks runners to go virtual.
  7. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Justice for George Floyd

A portrait of George Floyd hangs on a street light pole in Minneapolis. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

George Floyd, 46, moved to Minnesota to improve his life and become his "best self," but instead, he is dead because of Minneapolis police.

The latest: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz declared a state of emergency and activated the state's National Guard in response to violent clashes over the past two days between police and protesters in the Twin Cities.

Trump signs executive order targeting protections for social media platforms

President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday designed to limit the legal protections that shield social media companies from liability for the content users post on their platforms.

What they're saying: "Currently, social media giants like Twitter receive an unprecedented liability shield based on the theory that they are a neutral platform, which they are not," Trump said in the Oval Office. "We are fed up with it. It is unfair, and it's been very unfair."