House passes $36.5B of aid for Puerto Rico, hurricane-hit states

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The House is on track to backing President Donald Trump's request for billions more in disaster aid, $16 billion to pay flood insurance claims and emergency funding to help the cash-strapped government of Puerto Rico stay afloat.

The death toll could continue to rise, as many of Puerto Rico's 3.4 million residents, particularly in rural areas, struggle without basic necessities or access to hospitals.

More than a dozen years after Hurricane Katrina pounded the Gulf Coast, FEMA was slated to dole out nearly half a billion dollars in fiscal year 2017 to fund relief efforts, mostly in Louisiana, after the hurricane and subsequent storms Rita and Wilma. Even long after a site is granted Superfund status, designating it a priority for the federal government, cleanup can take decades-and even then efforts are rarely able to eliminate all toxins. But it is Trump's tone toward Puerto Rico that has drawn the most criticism.

Roberto Morales Santos, 70, looks out after posing for a portrait in his home, damaged by Hurricane Maria, in the municipality of Barranquitas outside San Juan, Puerto Rico October 11, 2017.

The Burlington County Board of Freeholders is teaming with the New Jersey Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development to host a supply drive for Hurricane Maria victims.

And after Trump said Cruz had "been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump", the mayor wore a black T-shirt featuring one word: "Nasty". Ryan is set to visit Puerto Rico on Friday.

He then went on to propose that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the military and first responders - who he said "have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances)" - cannot stay in the U.S. territory "forever!" Some also noted that as the island was reeling from Hurricane Maria, the president was instead tweeting about NFL players' behavior during the national anthem.

FEMA says there are currently some 19,000 federal civilian personnel and military service members - including more than 1,400 FEMA personnel - working in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"We have gone all out for Puerto Rico", Trump said at that meeting with Puerto Rico officials, including Cruz.

The legislative aid package totals $36.5 billion and sticks close to a White House request. But the federal relief effort has also hit problems such as reported hoarding by municipal employees, Tom said, citing it as one reason for the "militarization of the aid operation" in Puerto Rico. For now, it ignores huge demands from the powerful Florida and Texas delegations, which together pressed for some $40 billion more.

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