Trump lashes out at Puerto Rico as House weighs aid package

Trump lashes out at Puerto Rico as House weighs aid package

Some also noted that as the island was reeling from Hurricane Maria, the president was instead tweeting about NFL players' behavior during the national anthem.

"We can not keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders" in Puerto Rico "forever", President Trump said Thursday, hinting at a possible limit on federal aid to the island territory where 3.4 million Americans have struggled to recover from two destructive hurricanes.

The backlash to Trump's tweet was immediate on Capitol Hill, with a chorus of Democrats joining Pelosi in condemning the president's message.

After staying silent for days following Hurricane Maria's utter devastation of Puerto Rico, Donald Trump's initial instinct was to blame the island for its problems, remind the USA territory that it owes Wall Street a lot of money, and attack the Mayor of San Juan for stating, factually, that more aid was necessary.

"Congress to decide how much to spend.We can not keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been incredible (under the most hard circumstances) in P.R. forever!" he added.

Trump sparked a firestorm Thursday morning by suggesting on Twitter that Puerto Rico's struggles are largely the fault of island officials for fiscal mismanagement and crumbling infrastructure. It has killed at least 45 people, and about 85 percent of Puerto Rico residents still lack electricity.

The Trump administration has come under attack by critics who say federal help was slow to arrive in Puerto Rico. He says Puerto Rico shouldn't expect federal help "forever". "Successful recoveries do not last forever; they should be as swift as possible to help people resume their normal lives". One-third of the island lacks clean running water and just 8 percent of its roads are passable, according to government statistics.

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"They're a very important part of who we are", he said, later adding: "(Puerto Rico) should not be abandoned".

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

The bill combines $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency with $16 billion to permit the financially troubled federal flood insurance program pay an influx of Harvey-related claims.

Up to $5 billion of the FEMA money could be used to help local governments remain functional as they endure unsustainable cash shortfalls in the aftermath of Maria, which has choked off revenues and strained resources.

"Why do you continue to treat Puerto Ricans differently than other Americans when it comes to natural disasters?"

According to the White House transcript, Pence addressed the people of Puerto Rico when he said, "We are with you, we stand with you, and we will be with you every single day until Puerto Rico is restored bigger and better than ever before".

The GOP-run Congress had protracted debates past year on modest requests by former President Barack Obama to combat the Zika virus and help Flint, Michigan, fix its lead-tainted water system.

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