Before Hurricane Florence has even hit the coast, pundits are already blasting President Trump’s future response to the crisis.
The hurricane has stalled near the Carolina coast, with meteologists suggesting it may not make landfall until Sunday, yet some anti-Trumpers are acting like the hurricane has already hit – and that President Trump is repeating George W. Bush’s 2005 response to Hurricane Katrina.
— John Lundin 🌊 (@johnlundin) September 12, 2018
Hey North and South Carolina, your hurricane disaster money was given to FEMA to build detention facilities by Trump. Good luck with the paper towels. #HurricanceFlorence #FEMA https://t.co/7qHYWuHvoP
— Shelly T (@VexedShelly) September 12, 2018
The mainstream media has also joined the peanut gallery, with USA Today reporting that Trump had recently shifted $10 million from FEMA to ICE, although FEMA’s annual budget is around $15 billion.
In other words, by rounding FEMA’s budget to $15 billion, 0.0006 of its annual budget was sent to ICE ($10 million / $15 billion = 0.0006.)
Here’s a screenshot from a Sept. 2017 NPR article:
Limiting the math to just FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, $10 million of $7.4 billion is around 0.0013.
According to NPR:
The agency can “easily go through $200 million in a day,” according to Elizabeth Zimmerman, a former associate administrator at FEMA, “just gearing up, responding and being prepared for a disaster that’s coming.”
Compare that with USA Today’s article:
The Trump administration took nearly $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s budget this summer to help boost U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to budget documents shared with USA TODAY.
The revelation, just ahead of Hurricane Florence’s expected landfall in North and South Carolina, was found by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who first shared the documents live on MSNBC late Tuesday.
Sounds bad, doesn’t it? Well, until you do the math yourself – and until you get to the 10th paragraph of the article:
Tylet Houlton, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees both agencies, dismissed criticism of the document as a ‘sorry attempt to push a false agenda’ and said none of the money transferred came from disaster relief funding.
“Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts. This is a sorry attempt to push a false agenda at a time when the administration is focused on assisting millions on the East Coast facing a catastrophic disaster,” he said in a tweet. “The money in question — transferred to ICE from FEMA’s routine operating expenses — could not have been used for hurricane response due to appropriation limitations.”
In response, USA Today reported that the Trump administration was criticized over the aid given to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017, but the commander of the federal relief effort in Puerto Rico, Col. Michael Valle, said the problem was with relief distribution on the island that had little to do with the federal government.
“As a Puerto Rican, I can tell you that the problem has nothing to do with the U.S. military, FEMA, or the DoD,” he said. “The aid is getting to Puerto Rico. The problem is distribution.”
“The federal government has sent us a lot of help; moving those supplies, in particular, fuel, is the issue right now.”
He said that only 20% of drivers were even making deliveries, which was contributed to a protest by a local union that was resisting policies set in place by the Puerto Rican governor.