President Trump Criticizes Puerto Rico, Hints at Time Limit to Federal Assistance

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to criticize the government of Puerto Rico and to signal that there was a time limit to federal assistance to the United States territory.

“We cannot keep FEMA, the Miltary & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” tweeted the President.

Last month, Puerto Rico took a direct hit from Hurricane Maria. The category 4 hurricane was the third major hurricane, along with Harvey and Irma, to batter the Carribean and the United States mainland this summer.

So far,  45 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria and millions are still without power or running water, especially outside the capital city, San Juan.

President Trump laid part of the blame for Maria’s devastation on the Puerto Rican government. “Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes,” tweeted Trump.

The President’s comments come as the Congress decides on a $36.5 billion disaster aid package for the states and territories hit this hurricane season.

While the amount is in line with what the White House has requested, it is less than half the amount that members of Congress from Texas and Florida say they need. Puerto Rico has no representation in the Senate and a single non-voting member in the House of Representatives.

The damage from Hurricane Maria is estimated to cost $95 billion. For reference, Puerto Rico’s entire gross domestic product in 2013 was $103 billion according to the World Bank.

In a letter to Congressional leadership, Governor Ricardo Rosselló asked the Congress to appropriate an extra $4.5 billion in aid to Puerto Rico. While Rosselló did mention his gratitude to the federal government for their “concern and dedication to Puerto Rico’s recovery,” he acknowledged that “absent extraordinary measures to address the halt in economic activity in Puerto Rico, the humanitarian crisis will deepen, and the unmet basic needs of the American citizens of Puerto Rico will become even greater.”

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