As part of that effort, Puerto Rico’s governor on Wednesday signed a grant agreement that is meant to allow the territory to access $8.3 billion in Department of Housing and Urban Development funding related to the hurricane.
Still rebuilding from the 2017 hurricane, Puerto Rico was hit by a series of earthquakes beginning in late December, including a 6.4-magnitude temblor on Jan. 7 that killed one person and caused widespread damage and power outages. Aftershocks have continued, with a 5-magnitude earthquake hitting just Tuesday.
The House Democrats’ $4.67 billion aid package would include $3.26 billion in community development block grants, $1.25 billion for repairs to roads, and tens of millions more for schools, energy and nutrition assistance.
The aid package was unlikely to pass the Senate in its current form.
In its veto message, the White House Office of Management and Budget called the House legislation “misguided.”
“Neither Puerto Ricans nor the American taxpayers benefit when emergency aid is misallocated, lost, or stolen through waste, fraud, and abuse,” the veto message said. “Multiple high-profile cases of corruption have marred distribution of aid already appropriated and have led to ongoing political instability on the island."
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.) contended that the aid package provides “targeted assistance to help families and communities recover from these devastating earthquakes and puts Puerto Rico on a better path to long-term recovery.”
Lowey said the package also establishes safeguards “designed to address the Trump administration’s outrageous withholding of vital aid to Puerto Rico,” including requiring detailed spending plans and requiring money to be released in a timely way.
Jeff Stein contributed to this report.