Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Trump lashes out at Puerto Rico as House weighs aid package

Trump lashes out at Puerto Rico as House weighs aid package

Thursday morning, Trump tweeted, "We can not keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been awesome (under the most hard circumstances) in P.R. forever!"

His broadsides triggered an outcry from Democrats in Washington and officials on the island, which has been reeling since Hurricane Maria struck three weeks ago, leaving death and destruction in an unparalleled humanitarian crisis.

Democrats said Trump's tweets were deplorable, given that the 3 million-plus U.S. citizens on Puerto Rico are confronting the kind of hardships that would draw howls of outrage if they affected a state.

Trump's comments are his latest remarks on Puerto Rico to offer a mix of criticism and support - and to draw what seems to be a direct response from local politicians in the US territory. This is the time to show our "true colors".

Yulin Cruz and Trump have clashed throughout the recovery process, including yesterday when she was quoted by Public Radio International as saying "I don't give a s--" about Trump's comments about her.

"After Trump's most recent comments, Cruz responded via Twitter, "@POTUS It is not that you do not get it; you are incapable of fulfilling the moral imperative to help the people of PR. Shame on you!"

At a White House briefing, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was asked whether Mr. Trump believed Puerto Ricans were American citizens deserving of the same access to federal aid as Texans and Floridians. But the source conceded the optics of the president's handling of the crisis in Puerto Rico have been "terrible". He says Puerto Rico shouldn't expect federal help "forever".

"The bigger concern is in the long term", he told Reuters in a 30-minute telephone interview as the House of Representatives moved ahead with a $4.9 billion loan for Puerto Rico as well as billions more in disaster relief.

60 percent of wastewater treatment plants are working on generator power.

The House is on track to back Trump's request for billions more in disaster aid, $16 billion to pay flood insurance claims and emergency funding to help the cash-strapped government of Puerto Rico stay afloat.

The words were taken by some as a hint at abandoning Puerto Rico.

The island was in financial peril before the storms Maria and Irma hit.

And Alejandro García Padilla, the former governor of Puerto Rico, said it is important be plain about what this is: "racist". He added, "We've saved a lot of lives". Yet lenders continued to extend credit to Puerto Rico despite its economic struggles, while pension costs strained Puerto Rico's government and its infrastructure deteriorated.

"He seemed to like the idea, and said they would follow up and see what that would look like", Rubio said.

Some of those mayors have called for all supplies to go through them, so they can distribute the aid.

"He appears not to understand what his own administration is doing or how the federal government operates", the source said.

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