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A resident stands on her property after Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

An attorney at the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Inspector General said on Tuesday that the watchdog will open a probe to determine whether the White House interfered with the distribution of millions of dollars in disaster aid for Puerto Rico following 2017's Hurricane Maria, reports the Washington Post.

The backdrop: Trump's response in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria triggered concern among Democrats after he refused to allocate additional funds to the U.S. territory and chose not to visit the island ravaged by the hurricane as quickly as he had when natural disasters struck Florida and Texas. As the Post notes, "Congress has appropriated nearly $20 billion in HUD disaster relief funds for Puerto Rico, only $1.5 billion of which has been approved for spending."

Details: Kirkland said the probe comes at the request of congressional lawmakers as part of a broader look at HUD's management of disaster grants.

  • The Post reported that a "bipartisan group of lawmakers is looking into broader delays in the spending of federal aid for a number of regions struck by natural disasters, including Texas and Florida."
  • The Post also reported that HUD Secretary Ben Carson blamed Puerto Rick's “history of fiscal malfeasance," for the "additional financial controls ... to ensure this disaster recovery money is spent properly.”
  • "On Monday, the Government Accountability Office published a report finding that the federal government has been “slow” to get block grants to areas struck by disasters."

Yes, but: Kirkland told lawmakers that his office may encounter jurisdictional limitations "to look into the totality" of the administration's response. "But where we can, we have asked those questions that Congress asked us to get to the bottom of," the Post cited him saying.

Go deeper: Trump’s "A Plus treatment" highlights political approach to disaster relief

Go deeper

Axios-Ipsos poll: People of color face more environmental threats

Expand chart
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±2.5% margin of error; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Americans of color are much less likely than white Americans to experience good air quality or tap water or enough trees or green space in their communities, and they're more likely to face noise pollution and litter, a new Axios-Ipsos poll finds.

The big picture: Our national survey shows Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely than their white counterparts to live near major highways or industrial or manufacturing plants — and to have dealt in the past year with water-boil notices or power outages lasting more than 24 hours.

15 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

16 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."