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Tropical Storm Laura passes through Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico on Aug. 22. Photo: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images

Three years after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the White House on Friday authorized $11.6 billion in federal aid and FEMA grants to rebuild infrastructure on the island.

Why it matters: Throughout his presidency, Trump has resisted giving Puerto Rico any more federal money for its recovery from Hurricane Maria. The White House touted the grants announced Friday as some of the largest in FEMA's history.

Catch up quick: Most of the funding will go towards the the state-owned Puerto Rico Electrical Power Authority (PREPA), which filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and left thousands of customers without power last month in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaias, per AP.

  • FEMA is allocating $9.6 billion to help PREPA repair and replace its electric grid and $2 billion to the Puerto Rico Department of Education restore schools, the White House said.
  • Congress approved $50 billion to help the island in the aftermath of Maria, and that federal funding has been extremely slow to reach the island. Around $16 billion has already been dispersed.

The big picture: Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 hurricane, was the worst natural disaster to hit the island, and resulted in over 3,000 deaths. Puerto Rico saw a series of earthquakes early this year that displaced thousands of people, and has weathered several tropical storms this summer that caused more flooding and damage.

What they're saying: Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) said in a statement the Trump administration had "delayed, dragged its feet and resisted allocating these badly needed funds."

  • “Puerto Rico has been desperate for federal assistance to modernize and upgrade its electrical grid for years, especially since Hurricane Maria inflicted on the Island the longest blackout in modern history," she said.
  • "While I certainly hope to see this money put to good use making Puerto Rico’s electrical system more resilient, these delays are unacceptable, and it is insulting to Puerto Ricans everywhere that the Administration is so blatantly playing politics with this aid.”

Between the lines: At a White House press conference, Trump used the FEMA grant announcement to bash Joe Biden and the Obama administration's aid to the island, offering little evidence for his accusation.

  • Trump claimed that as a senator, Biden "devastated" the island by voting in 1996 to eliminate a tax provision that put an unfair burden on Puerto Rican companies, and that the island's situation "got worse" during the Obama administration, without offering further evidence.
  • Biden's campaign is turning its focus to Puerto Rican constituents this week, Axios' Alexi McCammond reports.

This story has been updated with Trump's remarks from a press conference.

Go deeper

Nov 30, 2020 - World

New Zealand authorities charge 13 parties over deadly volcano eruption

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at New Zealand's parliament in Wellington. Photo: Mark Tantrum Photography via Getty Images

New Zealand authorities laid safety violation charges Monday against 10 organizations and three individuals over the fatal Whakaari/White Island volcanic disaster last December, per a statement from the agency WorksSafe.

Details: WorksSafe declined to name those charged as they may seek name suppression in court. But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said government agencies GNS Science, which monitors volcanic activity, and the National Emergency Management Agency were among those charged over the "horrific tragedy" that killed 22 people.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The global future is looking dark and stormy

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

A new 20-year-forecast for the world: increasingly fragmented and turbulent.

The big picture: A major report put out this week by the National Intelligence Council reflects a present rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. How the next two decades will unfold depends largely on whether new technologies will ultimately unite us — or continue to divide us.

10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Rep. Gaetz declares he's "not going anywhere" amid sex trafficking probe

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) doubled down Friday night, saying he's not "going anywhere," and vowing, "I have not yet begun to fight," amid a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations.

What he's saying: “I’m built for the battle, and I’m not going anywhere,” Gaetz, who denies the allegations, said during a Women for America First event at the Trump National Doral Miami resort.