Trump intervened to cut Puerto Rico's Medicaid funding in spending bill: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE reportedly intervened to slash billions of dollars worth of Medicaid funding the federal government was preparing to allocate to Puerto Rico as part of a new $1.4 trillion spending package. 

Politico, citing four sources familiar with the situation, reported on Tuesday that lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee had backed legislation that would send about $12 billion in Medicaid funds to Puerto Rico over a four-year time frame. But the president took issue with the amount, saying it was too much, three sources told the news outlet. 

Lawmakers on Monday then unveiled a spending package allocating up to $5.7 billion in Medicaid funds for the island over two years. The House overwhelmingly passed the spending package the legislation was included in on Tuesday. It now heads to the Senate.

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A White House spokesperson told Politico that the Puerto Rico Medicaid funding agreement was a "win for President Trump and the American people."

Chase Jennings, a spokesman for the White House Office of Management and Budget, also told the news outlet that the final deal represented the administration's commitment to "properly prioritizing U.S. taxpayer dollars."

"With the historical waste we have faced in Puerto Rico, additional funding was not needed or fiscally responsible," Jennings said. 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for further comment from The Hill. 

Puerto Rico's Medicaid program, which cover more than 1 million low-income people, has reportedly been relying on short-term funding extensions since the fall of this year. Its latest series of funding installments is set to expire on Friday. 

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Congress has meanwhile been pushing for stronger measures to block inappropriate spending and monitor the territory's contracting practices in the wake of a corruption scandal involving a former Puerto Rican health administration official. 

Politico noted that funding negotiations for the U.S. territory have been especially fraught in light of political turmoil and the aftermath of destructive hurricanes. Trump has repeatedly targeted the territory, calling it one of the "most corrupt places on earth" in August. He has also continually denounced its politicians as "crooked" and "incompetent." 

The president came under widespread criticism in 2017 for his administration's response efforts to Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island. 

Puerto Rican officials on Tuesday praised the latest funding deal. Jennifer Storipan, executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, said that the territory would "continue to work hand-in-hand with the federal government to achieve a longer-term funding mechanism that provides stable healthcare to the people of Puerto Rico."