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Trump administration to place new restrictions on billions in aid for Puerto Rico amid island’s political crisis

The Trump administration will place new restrictions on billions of dollars in federal disaster aid for Puerto Rico, according to two senior government officials briefed on the plan, as the island struggles to recover from a weeks-long political crisis that has forced the governor to announce his resignation.

The decision will impose new safeguards on about $8.3 billion in Housing and Urban Development disaster mitigation funding to Puerto Rico, as well as about $770 million in similar funding for the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the senior officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Trump repeatedly asks his aides about Puerto Rico, officials said, creating pressure for the administration to take action. It was not immediately clear to what extent the new guidelines will delay or materially affect the disbursement of aid to Puerto Rico. The parameters of those new restrictions are also not clear.

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The administration will also move forward with plans to allow U.S. states such as Florida, Texas, and California to apply for the disaster mitigation funding approved by Congress, while adding new restrictions for Puerto Rico’s funding. The administration’s new plan was spurred directly by requests from the president to add additional safeguards on federal aid to Puerto Rico, aides said.

The mitigation funds pay for projects on housing and other infrastructure to prepare them for future natural disasters. […]

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