MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) — President Donald Trump is returning to visit Panhandle areas still affected by
Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 hurricane which devastated the area and to rally his supporters.
Trump won’t be heralding millions of dollars in disaster relief funding for the area.
Those funds — sought by local residents and Florida elected officials for months — remain tied up in slow-moving negotiations over a broader multi-billion dollar disaster relief package amid a dispute over how much assistance should flow to Puerto Rico.
Trump has repeatedly complained about the federal funding steered to help the US territory recover from the hurricane that devastated the island in 2017. He has also continued to object to additional funding for Puerto Rico.
Democrats, meanwhile, have insisted on a bolstered fundraising package for Puerto Rico as part of the supplemental relief package for Americans across the country impacted by hurricanes, floods and wildfires. Senate Democrats rebuffed the latest offer from Senate Republicans to increase aid funding for Puerto Rico, objecting to guard rail provisions attached to the funding. And it remains unclear whether Trump would support the increased funding, regardless.
Further complicating matters, the Trump administration is now pushing for supplemental border security funding to be added to the package.
The impasse did not dissuade Trump from making an appearance Wednesday in the area affected by Hurricane Michael, even as local elected officials — including the state’s Republican governor — have suggested Trump should only come to the area with a disaster relief funding deal in hand.
“Why would you want to come unless you are going to announce more good news?” Gov. Ron DeSantis — who met with Trump on Monday to discuss the relief funding — told local reporters last weekend.
Florida politicos and hurricane victims anticipate President Trump will announce some sort of disaster relief at Wednesday rally.
Before rallying his supporters in Panama City Beach, Trump will tour nearby Tyndall Air Force Base, which suffered extensive damage from the hurricane last fall, and other impacted areas.
Trump has blamed the legislative roadblock on Democrats and their insistence on boosting funding for Puerto Rico, falsely claiming that Puerto Rico has received $91 billion in relief funding — more than half of which is based on the White House’s estimates for costs FEMA could incur in years to come.
“Now the Democrats are saying NO relief to Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and others unless much more money is given to Puerto Rico,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “The Dems don’t want farmers to get any help. Puerto Rico should be very happy and the Dems should stop blocking much needed Disaster Relief!”
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