Trump lashes out at Puerto Rico as House weighs aid package

Children play at the Jose de Diego Elementary School where people are filing FEMA forms for federal aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Las Piedras Puerto Rico on Oct. 2. Much of the countryside is still struggling to find fresh water and food

The big picture on Puerto Rico's recovery

"We have gone all out for Puerto Rico", Trump said at that meeting with Puerto Rico officials, including Cruz.

"He wrote in two separate tweets, "'Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.' says Sharyl Attkisson. The death toll from the storm has risen to 45, authorities have said, and at least 113 people remain unaccounted for, according to Karixia Ortiz, a spokeswoman for Puerto Rico's Department of Public Safety.

Puerto Rico has been reeling since Hurricane Maria struck three weeks ago, leaving death and destruction in an unparalleled humanitarian crisis.

The mayor tweeted that Trump is "incapable of fulfilling the moral imperative to help the people of PR. Shame on you!"

Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence visited the island last week to offer the USA commitment to the island's recovery. Most people in Puerto Rico do not pay federal income taxes, but they do pay local income taxes, which are often higher than what federal income taxes would be. It knocked out electricity to the whole island and caused widespread damage to homes and infrastructure.

On Thursday morning, POTUS tweeted (gasp!) that Puerto Rico itself is to blame for its current post-hurricane crisis, while suggesting that he "cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been incredible (under the most hard circumstances) in P.R. forever!"

Without a federally-backed investment plan to not only rebuild the island's infrastructure but also revamp its basic human services (like schools, communications, and hospitals), and replant its crops (of which about 80% have been destroyed), the only option for residents will be mass migration to the U.S. This will not only be disaster for the island and its heritage, but it will create an immigration strain on the U.S. that it is not likely to accept in the current political climate. But it is Trump's tone toward Puerto Rico that has drawn the most criticism. The pragmatic solution is to grant Puerto Rico statehood and funnel investment into the island so that its people can benefit from the contributions that they have made to the US for over a century.

"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.

The legislative aid package totals $36.5 billion and sticks close to a White House request. Katrina required about $110 billion in emergency appropriations. An additional $577 million would pay for western firefighting efforts.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., planned to visit Puerto Rico on Friday.

"It's not easy when you're used to living in an American way of life, and then somebody tell 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.

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