President Trump issued a warning Thursday to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, saying the U.S. territory’s infrastructure was a mess before the storm and warning that federal officials cannot stay on the island “forever.”
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The president made the comments in a series of early-morning tweets.
“’Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.’ Says Sharyl Attkisson. A total lack of accountability say[s] the Governor. Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes,” Trump said.
“Congress to decide how much to spend…We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”
The president’s comments come just one week after he visited the U.S. territory that is struggling to recover from the devastation left by Hurricane Maria, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in nearly a century.
Trump’s trip to Puerto Rico was criticized, for among other things commenting on how the storm’s death toll was far lower than that of a “real catastrophe like Katrina” in 2005.
“Sixteen people versus in the thousands,” Trump said. “You can be very proud of all your people.”
The president has repeatedly called for more help “on a local level” from Puerto Rico and has had an intermittent feud with the San Juan mayor, who also has faced criticism for engaging in political combat when other officials on the island are not.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., shot back Thursday at Trump’s latest tweets.
“Why do you continue to treat Puerto Ricans differently than other Americans when it comes to natural disasters?” Schumer tweeted.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, earlier this month, there were more than 10,000 federal officials on the ground on the island.
On Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., plans to lead a small bipartisan group, including the chairman and top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee that signs off on spending legislation, to visit Puerto Rico.
Ryan plans to meet with local officials and emergency personnel.
The House is expected to vote this week on an emergency spending package including billions of dollars more in relief for Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida in the wake of deadly storms Maria, Harvey and Irma this hurricane season.
The president asked Congress this week for a $4.9 billion loan to help Puerto Rico pay its bills from the storm. The island faced more than $70 billion in debt prior to the storm, and declared bankruptcy in May.