WASHINGTON – President Trump called for Republicans to reject a $17 billion disaster relief bill providing millions in funding to areas ravaged by natural disaster in the last few years.

Late Thursday evening, the president tweeted his opposition to the bill, calling it the “BAD DEMOCRAT Disaster Supplemental Bill” and urging House Republicans to vote against it. Hours later, around 11 p.m., he added that his party “must stick together.”

Trump’s tweets came on the eve of a House vote Friday on a sweeping disaster relief package to provide additional financial aid to places across the country besieged by hurricanes, wildfires and flooding since 2017.

The major sticking point is the additional funding Democrats included to help Puerto Rico rebuild after Hurricane Maria severely damaged the island and killed 3,000 people, including $600 million for nutrition assistance.

Trump has pushed back against giving more money to Puerto Rico, incorrectly stating that the federal government has already allocated $91 billion to help Puerto Rico. It’s actually promised about half of that amount and spent only $11 billion.

At a rally in the Florida Panhandle this week, an area devastated by Hurricane Michael in 2018, Trump falsely suggested that giving more money to Puerto Rico would shrink the pool for other areas that need it.

Senate Republicans have indicated a willingness to bend on funding for Puerto Rico, but it’s unclear whether Trump would agree.

With little other legislation expected to pass the divided Congress this year, the package could also get bogged down by other policy requests.

The White House, for one, wants the disaster relief bill to include $4.5 billion in emergency border spending to be used for humanitarian and security purposes.

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