Trump ending hold of $8B in Puerto Rico disaster aid relief

Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks to a boy at a Ponce Puerto Rico shelter on Tuesday after an earthquake hit the island

Enlarge Image Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks to a boy at a Ponce Puerto Rico shelter on Tuesday after earthquakes hit the island. Getty Images

Puerto Rico has access to $ 8.2 billion in late disaster relief from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the island's non-voting US Congressman. Officials blamed the delay on political volatility in the US territory but the President may have other reasons to hold on to the fund.

HUD has been authorized to administer almost $20 billion to the island's hurricane relief efforts through its Community Development Block Grant.

CBS News reporter David Begnaud said the natural disaster was felt as far north as San Juan.

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the administration to "cease and desist that illegal activity", referring to the hold on the funds.

Assembly Member Michael Crespo and Assembly Member Maritza Davitza responded to the belated release of some federal disaster relief funding for Puerto Rico.

In September, HUD blew the deadline to publish the funding notice, saying it had to ensure that financial safeguards were put in place amid the recent political unrest on the island.

While the HUD claimed that the funds weren't sent to Puerto Rico over civil unrest concerns, Trump's critics alleged that the withholding of aid has been done less out of concern about corruption and more as a way to punish the island's leadership, which has been deeply critical of the president.

Among them was a 6.4 magnitude quake that hit on January 7, killing one person and injuring nine others, and a 5.9 magnitude aftershock that occurred Saturday, causing further damage.

Trump has not hesitated to feud with the island's leaders.

January 16-New York State will send engineers, power experts and mental health professionals to earthquake-ravaged Puerto Rico, Gov. Cuomo announced Wednesday.

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