Trump Blames Puerto Rico, Says Aid Can't Last 'Forever'

Elias Hubbard
October 13, 2017

"The people of Puerto Rico are American citizens and they deserve federal assistance to recover and rebuild", Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for House Appropriations Committee chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, said in a statement to Anadolu Agency. "There will be a period in which we hope sooner rather than later, the United States military and (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), generally speaking, can withdraw because then the government and people of Puerto Rico are recovering sufficiently to start the process of rebuilding".

House Speaker Paul Ryan will lead a bipartisan delegation visiting Puerto Rico on Friday, according to the speaker's office.

But it is Trump's tone toward Puerto Rico that has drawn the most criticism.

Toxic waste is not the only drinking water worry in Puerto Rico.

"And San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who has feuded publicly with the President over the federal response, said on Twitter that Trump was incapable of fulfilling the moral imperative to help the people of PR. Shame on you.!"

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. Residents struggle to find clean water, hospitals are running short on medicine and commerce is slow with many businesses closed.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers, however, said more money would likely be needed later.

Puerto Rico lost population and jobs after Congress eliminated special tax breaks in 2006, making it more hard to repay its debts.

The legislative aid package totals $36.5 billion and sticks close to a White House request.

A steady series of disasters could put 2017 on track to rival Hurricane Katrina and other 2005 storms as the most costly set of disasters ever.

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote Thursday on legislation that would include $18.7 billion for FEMA's disaster relief fund and $16 billion for debt relief for the National Flood Insurance Program. An additional $577 million would pay for western firefighting efforts.

Puerto Rico is burdened with almost $72 billion in pre-hurricane debt being overseen by a federally created oversight board.

Police officers, teachers and students from Chestnut Academy Middle School took the field to raise money for an island in need.

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.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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