Trump lashes out at Puerto Rico as House passes aid package - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Trump lashes out at Puerto Rico as House passes aid package

ADVERTISEMENT
Bookmark and Share
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File). In this Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, file photo, destroyed communities are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File). In this Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, file photo, destroyed communities are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File). In this Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, file photo, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks during a news conference. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File). In this Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, file photo, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks during a news conference.
  • Inside KAIT8.comMore>>

  • Trump to halt subsidies to health insurers

    Trump to halt subsidies to health insurers

    Thursday, October 12 2017 3:45 AM EDT2017-10-12 07:45:17 GMT
    Friday, October 13 2017 4:28 AM EDT2017-10-13 08:28:51 GMT

    Critics say the White House approach would raise costs for the sick, while the lower-premium coverage provided to healthy people would come with significant gaps.

    Critics say the White House approach would raise costs for the sick, while the lower-premium coverage provided to healthy people would come with significant gaps.

  • Grim search for victims as wildfires grow to size of NYC

    Grim search for victims as wildfires grow to size of NYC

    Thursday, October 12 2017 3:15 AM EDT2017-10-12 07:15:36 GMT
    Friday, October 13 2017 3:18 AM EDT2017-10-13 07:18:33 GMT

    New deaths confirmed Thursday took the toll to 31, making this the deadliest week of wildfires in California history.

    New deaths confirmed Thursday took the toll to 31, making this the deadliest week of wildfires in California history.

  • Energy secretary, Dems clash over plan to help coal, nuclear

    Energy secretary, Dems clash over plan to help coal, nuclear

    Thursday, October 12 2017 3:35 AM EDT2017-10-12 07:35:15 GMT
    Friday, October 13 2017 2:06 AM EDT2017-10-13 06:06:18 GMT

    An unusual coalition of business and environmental groups is fighting an Energy Department plan to bolster coal and nuclear at the expense of natural gas, wind and solar.

    An unusual coalition of business and environmental groups is fighting an Energy Department plan to bolster coal and nuclear at the expense of natural gas, wind and solar.

  • The Latest: House passes $36.5 billion disaster aid bill

    The Latest: House passes $36.5 billion disaster aid bill

    Thursday, October 12 2017 7:55 AM EDT2017-10-12 11:55:21 GMT
    Thursday, October 12 2017 4:38 PM EDT2017-10-12 20:38:24 GMT
    President Donald Trump is criticizing hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and says the government can't keep federal aid there "forever.".
    President Donald Trump is criticizing hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and says the government can't keep federal aid there "forever.".
  • Some Democrats who opposed Iran nuke deal now want it upheld

    Some Democrats who opposed Iran nuke deal now want it upheld

    Thursday, October 12 2017 4:05 AM EDT2017-10-12 08:05:16 GMT
    Thursday, October 12 2017 12:18 PM EDT2017-10-12 16:18:21 GMT

    The reversal underscores deep concerns among lawmakers that Trump will inform Congress in the coming days that the landmark 2015 agreement with Iran is contrary to America's national security interests.

    The reversal underscores deep concerns among lawmakers that Trump will inform Congress in the coming days that the landmark 2015 agreement with Iran is contrary to America's national security interests.

  • After Harvey, family in TX lives in renovated garage

    After Harvey, family in TX lives in renovated garage

    Thursday, October 12 2017 1:44 AM EDT2017-10-12 05:44:54 GMT
    Thursday, October 12 2017 1:44 AM EDT2017-10-12 05:44:54 GMT

    After being rescued by police boat during Harvey's rains, the the family returned home, but their focus wasn’t the three-bedroom house -  they to made the garage their temporary living quarters.

    After being rescued by police boat during Harvey's rains, the the family returned home, but their focus wasn’t the three-bedroom house -  they to made the garage their temporary living quarters.

By KEN THOMAS and ANDREW TAYLOR
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump lashed out at hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico on Thursday, insisting in tweets that the federal government can't keep sending help "forever" and suggesting the U.S. territory was to blame for its financial struggles.

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.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, with whom Trump has had a running war of words, tweeted that the president's comments were "unbecoming" to a commander in chief and "seem more to come from a 'Hater in Chief.'"

"Mr. President, you seem to want to disregard the moral imperative that your administration has been unable to fulfill," the mayor said in a statement.

The debate played out as the House passed, on a sweeping 353-69 vote, a $36.5 billion disaster aid package that includes assistance for Puerto Rico's financially-strapped government. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the government needs to ensure that Puerto Rico can "begin to stand on its own two feet" and said the U.S. has "got to do more to help Puerto Rico rebuild its own economy."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders praised the House action Thursday night and promised the administration "will continue to work with Congress to provide the resources necessary to recover and rebuild from the hurricanes" and the wildfires in California.

Forty-five deaths in Puerto Rico have been blamed on Maria, about 85 percent of Puerto Rico residents still lack electricity and the government says it hopes to have electricity restored completely by March.

Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence visited the island last week to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the island's recovery. But Trump's tweets Thursday raised questions about whether the U.S. would remain there for the long haul. He tweeted, "We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!"

In a series of tweets, the president added, "electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes." He blamed Puerto Rico for its looming financial crisis and "a total lack of accountability."

The tweets conflicted with Trump's past statements on Puerto Rico. During an event last week honoring the heritage of Hispanics, for example, the president said, "We will be there all the time to help Puerto Rico recover, restore, rebuild."

White House chief of staff John Kelly, speaking to reporters, said the military and other emergency responders were trying very hard to "work themselves out of a job." Reassuring the island, Kelly said the U.S. will "stand with those American citizens in Puerto Rico until the job is done."

At the Pentagon, Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. told reporters "there's still plenty of work to be done" by the military troops in Puerto Rico. He said there was no current plan to withdraw troops who are supporting FEMA's recovery efforts. McKenzie, director of the military's Joint Staff, said it will be up to FEMA and other civilian agencies to decide when the military is no longer needed there.

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. One-third of the island lacks clean running water and just 8 percent of its roads are passable, according to government statistics.

"It is shameful that President Trump is threatening to abandon these Americans when they most need the federal government's help," said Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking House Democrat.

After years of economic challenges, Puerto Rico was already in the process of restructuring much of its $74 billion in debt before the hurricane struck. The financial situation is more complicated than Trump's tweets suggest.

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

The legislative aid package totals $36.5 billion and sticks close to a White House request. For now, it ignores huge demands from the powerful Florida and Texas delegations, which together pressed for some $40 billion more.

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. Katrina required about $110 billion in emergency appropriations.

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. An additional $577 million would pay for western firefighting efforts.

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.

Ryan, the House speaker, planned to visit Puerto Rico on Friday. He has promised that the island will get what it needs.

"It's not easy when you're used to living in an American way of life, and then somebody tells you that you're going to be without power for six or eight months," said Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, who represents Puerto Rico as a nonvoting member of Congress. "It's not easy when you are continue to suffer - see the suffering of the people without food, without water, and actually living in a humanitarian crisis."

___

Associated Press writers Josh Boak and Robert Burns contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Deadly fires in CaliforniaMore>>

  • Wildfires worsen housing crunch in famously costly Bay Area

    Wildfires worsen housing crunch in famously costly Bay Area

    Wednesday, October 18 2017 3:11 AM EDT2017-10-18 07:11:07 GMT
    Thursday, October 19 2017 9:51 AM EDT2017-10-19 13:51:15 GMT
    The many thousands who lost their houses, condos and apartments in wildfires burning in Northern California will not only have to find or build a new place to live. They'll have to do it in one of the toughest...
    The many thousands who lost their houses, condos and apartments in wildfires burning in Northern California will not only have to find or build a new place to live. They'll have to do it in one of the toughest housing markets in the nation.
  • Trump has no plans now to visit California wildfire damage

    Trump has no plans now to visit California wildfire damage

    Thursday, October 19 2017 4:41 AM EDT2017-10-19 08:41:48 GMT
    Thursday, October 19 2017 7:48 AM EDT2017-10-19 11:48:30 GMT

    Some have questioned whether politics influenced his plans.

    Some have questioned whether politics influenced his plans.

  • Trump has no immediate plans to visit Calif. wildfire damage

    Trump has no immediate plans to visit Calif. wildfire damage

    Wednesday, October 18 2017 5:12 PM EDT2017-10-18 21:12:57 GMT
    Thursday, October 19 2017 4:24 AM EDT2017-10-19 08:24:32 GMT
    President Donald Trump has made four visits to hurricane zones in recent weeks but he isn't rushing to survey the damage from California's wildfires.
    President Donald Trump has made four visits to hurricane zones in recent weeks but he isn't rushing to survey the damage from California's wildfires.
  • National politicsMore>>

  • Evoking slain son, Kelly defends Trump on condolence calls

    Evoking slain son, Kelly defends Trump on condolence calls

    Thursday, October 19 2017 4:31 AM EDT2017-10-19 08:31:48 GMT
    Friday, October 20 2017 1:02 AM EDT2017-10-20 05:02:49 GMT

    Trump started the storm this week when he claimed that he alone of U.S. presidents had called the families of all slain soldiers.

    Trump started the storm this week when he claimed that he alone of U.S. presidents had called the families of all slain soldiers.

  • Senate backs GOP budget in step forward for tax revamp

    Senate backs GOP budget in step forward for tax revamp

    Thursday, October 19 2017 5:21 AM EDT2017-10-19 09:21:39 GMT
    Friday, October 20 2017 1:02 AM EDT2017-10-20 05:02:35 GMT
    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite). In this Oct. 17, 2017, photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., flanked by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., left, and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, announces to reporters that the Senate is moving ahead.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite). In this Oct. 17, 2017, photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., flanked by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., left, and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, announces to reporters that the Senate is moving ahead.

    Senate Republicans seem to be on cruise control to pass a $4 trillion budget plan that shelves GOP deficit concerns in favor of the party's drive to cut taxes.

    Senate Republicans seem to be on cruise control to pass a $4 trillion budget plan that shelves GOP deficit concerns in favor of the party's drive to cut taxes.

  • Trump's border wall models take shape in San Diego

    Trump's border wall models take shape in San Diego

    Thursday, October 19 2017 10:22 PM EDT2017-10-20 02:22:05 GMT
    Friday, October 20 2017 1:02 AM EDT2017-10-20 05:02:25 GMT

    The last two of eight prototypes for President Donald Trump's proposed border wall are taking shape at a construction site in San Diego.

    The last two of eight prototypes for President Donald Trump's proposed border wall are taking shape at a construction site in San Diego.

Powered by Frankly