San Juan mayor fires back after Trump tweet about aid to Puerto Rico

PHOTO: President Donald Trump returns after travelling to the AMVETS convention in Kentucky, at the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Aug. 21, 2019.PlayTasos Katopodis/Reuters
WATCH News headlines today: Sept. 13, 2019

As Dorian neared Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump on Tuesday made the false claim that Congress had approved $92 billion for the island after the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump returns after travelling to the AMVETS convention in Kentucky, at the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Aug. 21, 2019. Tasos Katopodis/Reuters
President Donald Trump returns after travelling to the AMVETS convention in Kentucky, at the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Aug. 21, 2019.

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"Wow! Yet another big storm heading to Puerto Rico. Will it ever end? Congress approved 92 Billion Dollars for Puerto Rico last year, an all time record of its kind for 'anywhere,'" Trump complained.

In fact, Congress has allocated only about $42 billion -- and only a smaller portion of that has been spent. But Trump and the White House have repeatedly used the $92 billion figure -- based, they say, on a government estimate of how much recovery money the island could need over 20 years.

One difference in Trump's claim this time is that he said Congress has approved the money for recovery as opposed to Puerto Rico having received the money.

"Just so you understand, we gave Puerto Rico $91 billion for the hurricane," Trump told reporters in May at the White House.

According to The Washington Post, about $14 billion of the money allocated by Congress has reached the island so far.

PHOTO: Department of Homeland Security personnel deliver supplies to Santa Ana community residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico, Oct. 5, 2017. Carlos Giusti/AP, FILE
Department of Homeland Security personnel deliver supplies to Santa Ana community residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico, Oct. 5, 2017.

In a phone interview Tuesday night, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz -- who has a history of sparring with Trump -- fired back at the president on CNN.

"The president continues to express lies because the truth really does not suit him," she said. "As you said, it's not $92 billion, it is close to 42 billion. It's close to between $12.6 and $14 billion dollars that have come to Puerto Rico and still, things have not worked appropriately."

Trump has called his administration's response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico an "incredible unsung success."

"I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful. Puerto Rico was actually our toughest one of all because it is an island," Trump said in September in the Oval Office, noting that boats were deployed to deliver supplies to island residents.

"I actually think it is one of the best jobs that's ever been done with respect to what this is all about," he added.

Trump also was inaccurate in his tweeted claim that the money Congress has approved for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria was "an all time record of its kind for "anywhere."

Government records show that some $160 billion was spent on recovery-related efforts after Hurricane Katrina and some $125 billion in the wake if Hurricane Harvey.

With the island still recovering two years after Hurricane Maria and a new tropical storm making its way toward the coast of Puerto Rico, officials have declared a state of emergency as the storm is expected to grow stronger and become a hurricane the closer it gets to the U.S. territory.

On CNN, the mayor of San Juan also said, "It seems like some people have learned the lessons of the past or are willing to say that they didn't do right by us the first time and they are trying to do their best. That is not the case with the president of the United States."

"So get out of the way, President Trump, and let the people that can do the job get the job done," she added.

ABC News' Megan Hughes contributed to this report.