Turner and Hidalgo Blast George P. Bush For Withholding Harvey Relief Funds

George P. Bush is taking heat from Houston and Harris County for not sending the region any Harvey relief cash.
George P. Bush is taking heat from Houston and Harris County for not sending the region any Harvey relief cash. Screenshot
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner went after Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush Wednesday with a letter expressing their “profound disappointment” with how Bush’s General Land Office blocked Houston and Harris County from receiving even one cent of the latest round of federal Hurricane Harvey relief funding, despite being by far the hardest hit part of Texas during that disaster in 2017.

In the letter, which was also signed by all of Houston’s City Council and every Harris County Commissioner, the local officials wrote that “Having lived through Hurricane Harvey as residents of this community, we simply cannot accept this decision from your office.”

“We ask you to reconsider your decision, to immediately revise your metrics, and allocate the [Harvey relief] funding based on the proportionality of the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey,” the letter read.

On Friday, Hidalgo held a press conference during which she blamed former President Donald Trump’s Department of Housing and Urban Development for cutting Harris County and Houston off from receiving any funding by allegedly dictating that the funds be spent based on a formula that unfairly penalizes large, densely populated urban areas like the Houston region.

However, in the days that followed, a representative from President Joe Biden’s HUD office explained that the funding allocation formula “was created by the state of Texas,” meaning it was Bush’s General Land Office that was responsible for the city and county not receiving any of the $1.3 billion in relief funds requested by Houston and Harris County.

Prior to calling out Bush — the nephew of former President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s son — for being responsible for blocking funding, both Hidalgo and Turner sent letters to Biden’s HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge last week asking her department to intervene in the matter and ensure Harris County and Houston would get relief funds going forward.

It’s unclear as to why local officials initially thought the federal government was to blame for the lack of relief funding and not Bush’s General Land Office, but Hidalgo and Turner now seem to be united in blaming Bush for the situation.

In an interview with ABC13 Friday, Bush argued that “Constituents have to start asking the City of Houston and Harris County who exactly are filling out these applications, and are they being effective in representing their constituents?”

Hidalgo and Turner now have their ire squarely focused on Bush, and are hoping their constituents will trust that he's to blame for holding back all that sorely needed Harvey relief cash.
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Schaefer Edwards is a staff writer at the Houston Press who covers local and regional news. A lifelong Texan and adopted Houstonian, he loves NBA basketball and devouring Tex-Mex while his cat watches in envy.
Contact: Schaefer Edwards