In the meantime, Puerto Ricans saw some nutritional assistance expire in March. The first named tropical storm of the year already formed — then dissipated — in the Atlantic Ocean, and hard-hit military bases and communities in coastal states have gone begging.
The delay has been particularly hard on farmers, already bruised by the administration’s trade war and reluctant to move forward in the middle of planting season without the promise of federal aid.
But Senate Democrats, with the backing of their counterparts in the House, refused to endorse any legislation that did not include substantial new money for Puerto Rico’s efforts to recover from two hurricanes in 2017. While the island had previously received supplemental aid — some of which has yet to be dispersed — Democrats argued that the Trump administration has neglected the island, which does not have voting representation in Congress, warranting even more funds.
The president, for his part, has repeatedly complained falsely that $91 billion has been sent to the island since the 2017 hurricanes. That number, according to the Office of Management and Budget, is the budget office’s estimate of how much the island could receive over the next two decades.
Amid that scuffle, two disaster-relief bills failed in the Senate, and the upper chamber did not take up a House-passed bill that would have sent $19.1 billion in relief across the country. Negotiators also disagreed over Mr. Shelby’s push to include language that would release funds from a harbor maintenance fund, which he ultimately agreed to leave out.
In recent weeks, demands from the administration and its Republican allies to include funds for the southwestern border eclipsed Puerto Rico as the major sticking point in negotiations, as the administration escalated its efforts to respond to a surge of asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants.
Having previously questioned Mr. Trump’s request for border security, Democrats balked at allocating billions of dollars more without more oversight on how it would be spent. Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut and a member of the House Appropriations Committee, described the Democrats’ approach as “a good faith offer, but not a blank check.”
The administration’s request for more beds at migrant processing centers was rejected by Democrats as a nonstarter.