Friday, September 21, 2018

Senate Democrats question Trump nominee’s role in Hurricane Maria response

By on July 10, 2018

SAN JUAN — Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Trump’s nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), current Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Associate Director Kathy Kraninger, asking for “a full accounting” of her role in the administration’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) say that in Kraninger’s position at OMB, she “oversees policy implementation and provides management guidance” to the Homeland Security (DHS), Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) departments.

In the aftermath of major disasters, the senators wrote, “OMB plays an integral role in the analysis of needs, and formulation of disaster supplemental appropriations requests to Congress and any related policies.”

“The Trump Administration’s botched and incompetent response to this tragedy of historic proportions served only to exacerbate the excruciating circumstances facing the people of Puerto Rico,” the senators said in the letter. “Instead of immediately deploying aid to make permanent repairs on the island, the Administration reportedly pressured Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló to agree to an experimental funding formula that would leave Puerto Rico on the hook for cost overages of any projects.”

The senators requested Kraninger provide them: “A complete description of any role you may have played in OMB disaster supplemental appropriations requests to Congress, budgetary or policy decisions, analyses, or recommendations related to the Trump Administration’s response to Hurricane Maria … [including] a list of all meetings you attended (in person or by telephone or other electronic means) related to these disaster supplemental appropriations requests to Congress, budgetary or policy decisions, analyses, or recommendations, the topics discussed in these meetings, and a list of all other attendees of those meetings.”

A press release issued by Menendez’s office says that in the “first disaster supplemental appropriation after Hurricane Maria, the majority of Puerto Rico’s aid came in the form of a loan with unprecedented terms not applicable to other states facing similar tragedies like Texas or Florida, setting once again different standards for the 3.5 million Americans living on the island. Forgiveness of Puerto Rico’s disaster loan will be provided at the sole discretion of the Secretaries of Treasury and Homeland Security, who have indicated that they do not intend to allow forgiveness.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.

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