What does Puerto Rico need with disaster relief, anyway?
Even before congressional negotiators reached a deal that doesn’t build Donald Trump’s wall, the White House was looking for ways to go around Congress to find wall money. The plan is to avoid another politically damaging government shutdown or an equally politically damaging national emergency declaration by using executive orders to shift existing money to a wall—and, maybe as a bonus, the White House is looking at stealing money from California and Puerto Rico for the purpose.
Politico reports that there’s an “emerging consensus” to strip money from disaster relief for California and Puerto Rico—but not red Texas—as well as from flood relief projects in California. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s plan would also use unspent military construction funds. This plan faces internal White House opposition from racist troll Stephen Miller, as well as opposition from the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, and would surely face legal challenges.
Nonetheless, a “Republican close to the White House” told Politico that, while Trump remains unpredictable, “My guess is the president ends up using executive authority to try to reprogram funds” and “Then, in the coming months through some form of military funds, they start building parts of the physical barrier. He can start claiming that, despite Democrats’ intransigence, he has done something on the wall.” Even if he’s tied up in court—cue more complaints about the Ninth Circuit—and not much is happening.