Cuts in food stamps that began this month in Puerto Rico — amid President Donald Trump’s concern about federal spending there — has fueled a new crisis for an island still struggling from Hurricane Maria, The Washington Post reported.
According to the Post, the food stamp cuts affect 1.3 million residents of the U.S. territory.
“We just don’t have the money right now,” Myrna Izquierdo, the administrator of an HIV clinic for men with health complications, told the Post about the inability to buy enough supplies — like diapers. “It’s very hard. It is so unfair. That cut is going to kill us.”
The federal government provided additional food-stamp aid to Puerto Rico after the hurricane, but Congress missed the deadline for reauthorization in March, the Post noted.
And lawmakers have also been stalled by the Trump administration, which has criticized the extra aid as unnecessary, the Post reported.
According to the Post — which cited unnamed sources — President Donald Trump at a Feb. 22 Oval Office meeting asked top advisers for ways to limit federal support from going to Puerto Rico, believing it was taking money that should be going to the mainland.
The meeting ended abruptly, but Trump has continued to ask aides how much money the island will get — and said he wanted the funds to only fortify the electric grid there, the Post reported.
Trump has also privately signaled he will not approve any additional help for Puerto Rico beyond food-stamp money, the Post reported.
“He doesn’t want another single dollar going to the island,” one unnamed source told the Post.
According to the Post, Trump, in meetings, describes large swaths of the island as never having power to begin with and that it’s “ridiculous” how much money is going there in food stamp aid, according to the unnamed source, the Post reported.
He also occasionally gripes about how ungrateful political officials in Puerto Rico were for the administration’s help, the official told the Post.
“The problems of Puerto Rico have a root cause problem attached to it: We don’t have political power and are not treated as equal citizens,” Ricardo Rosselló, Puerto Rico’s governor, told the Post, noting the island doesn’t elect voting members of Congress, or have a vote in U.S. presidential elections. “Maria has crystallized and enhanced this sense of powerlessness.”
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