Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Trump blasts Puerto Rico, says island was 'disaster before hurricanes'

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks during a news conference after the passage of a sweeping $1.2 trillion spending bill to fund the government, at the Capitol in Washington on Sept. 14, 2017. The House is on track to backing President Donald Trump's request for billions more in disaster aid, $16 billion to pay flood insurance claims and emergency funding to help the cash-strapped government of Puerto Rico stay afloat. Ryan is traveling to Puerto Rico on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. [Associated Press]

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks during a news conference after the passage of a sweeping $1.2 trillion spending bill to fund the government, at the Capitol in Washington on Sept. 14, 2017. The House is on track to backing President Donald Trump's request for billions more in disaster aid, $16 billion to pay flood insurance claims and emergency funding to help the cash-strapped government of Puerto Rico stay afloat. Ryan is traveling to Puerto Rico on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. [Associated Press]

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump lashed out at hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico on Thursday, insisting that federal help will be limited and blaming the U.S. territory for its financial struggles. The broadside came as the House headed toward passage of a $36.5 billion disaster aid package, including assistance for Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico has been reeling since Hurricane Maria struck three weeks ago, leaving death and destruction in an unparalleled humanitarian crisis. Forty-five deaths in Puerto Rico have been blamed on Maria, 90 percent of the island is still without power and the government says it hopes to have electricity restored completely by March.

Trump 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 said "electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes." He blamed Puerto Rico for its looming financial crisis and "a total lack of accountability."

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.

RELATED: Trump executive order aims to boost lower-premium health insurance plans

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.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., planned to visit Puerto Rico on Friday. He has promised that the island will get what it needs.

RELATED: Trump's plan to scrap state and local tax deduction hits resistance

"It's not easy when you're used to live 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. "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."

The GOP-run Congress had protracted debates last year on modest requests by former President Barack Obama to combat the Zika virus and help Flint, Michigan, repair its lead-tainted water system. Now, it is moving quickly to take care of this year's crises, quickly passing a $15.3 billion measure last month and signaling that another installment is coming next month.

Several lawmakers from hurricane-hit states said a third interim aid request is anticipated shortly — with a final, huge hurricane recovery and rebuilding package likely to be acted upon by the end of the year.

Trump blasts Puerto Rico, says island was 'disaster before hurricanes' 10/12/17 [Last modified: Thursday, October 12, 2017 10:39am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Gradebook podcast: On HB 7069, with Palm Beach schools superintendent Robert Avossa

    Blogs

    After months of discussion, several Florida school districts filed suit against the Legislature over the contentious HB 7069, calling parts of it unconstitutional. At the same time, some of them also sought grant funding established in the same measure. The Palm Beach County school district did both. Superintendent …

    Palm Beach superintendent Robert Avossa
  2. Hooper: Jean Chatzy chats about the intersection of wealth, health

    Personal Finance

    Public safety officials can readily identify a city's most dangerous intersections.

    Personal finance adviser Jean Chatzky is one of several high profile speakers on the slate for the Women's Conference of Florida in Tampa next week. [Handout photo]

  3. Video: Buckhorn, Kriseman team up in Tampa Bay pitch to Amazon

    Economic Development

    Across the United States, cities and metro areas are in a frenzied bidding war to convince Amazon their regions are the best fit for its new headquarters, HQ2.

    The Tampa Bay area is no exception. …

    The first  video, rolled out on Oct. 19, 2017, features Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, left, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman welcoming Amazon and talking about why Tampa Bay would be a perfect fit for the second Amazon headquarters.
  4. Dirk Koetter sounds Bucs alarm: 'They're the players that we have'

    Blogs

    The other day, Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith was asked about the lack of production and pressure from the defensive line, especially off the edge.

    Then it happened.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (28) takes the field for the start of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the New England Patriots on October 5, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
  5. Tampa police schedule update at 11 a.m. on three Seminole Heights deaths

    Crime

    TAMPA — Tampa police have scheduled a news conference at 11 a.m. for an update on their investigation of three suspicious deaths in southeast Seminole Heights during the past two weeks.

    Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan addresses reporters about the latest suspicious death in southeast Seminole Heights Thursday night. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL | Times]