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Chairman Thompson Statement on HUD Watchdog Report on Trump Administration Stalling Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief, Stonewalling Investigation

April 22, 2021

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the below statement on the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report out today on the Trump Administration putting up bureaucratic obstacles that stalled approximately $20 billion in hurricane relief that Congress appropriated for Puerto Rico and then obstructing an investigation into the matter. 

In 2019, Chairman Thompson, along with Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, and Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Chairwoman of the Small Business Committee, wrote the HUD OIG requesting it investigate whether the Trump Administration unduly withheld or hindered the obligation of Community Development Block Grants-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds.

After completing its investigation, the OIG found that HUD delayed or denied access to information on several occasions. Several former senior Administration officials in the OMB refused to provide requested information about decision-making related to the Puerto Rico relief funds. Additionally, the OIG found unprecedented procedural hurdles set by the White House, including new review processes that had never been required before and mandated changes to Puerto Rico law.

“We now know that the Trump Administration – time and again – put up an arbitrary and malicious array of hurdles for our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico to receive aid after Hurricane Maria hit the island in 2017. The Trump Administration’s hostility towards Puerto Rico directly hindered its ability to quickly recover after it faced devastation. Thankfully under the Biden Administration, these onerous restrictions to disaster funds have been removed. We cannot allow this to happen again – we must have a government that looks out for all citizens.”

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