Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
World News | By Carolyn Briggs

FEMA actually can stay in Puerto Rico indefinitely

FEMA actually can stay in Puerto Rico indefinitely

His comments - in which he also blamed the beleaguered island for a financial crisis "largely of their own making" and infrastructure that was a "disaster" before the hurricane - come as Puerto Rico still reels from a lack of electricity, public health access and a rising death toll.

"I would then again say, 'What is enough?' What is the right amount to satisfy whoever says we're not doing enough", he said on "New Day". In fact, FEMA has already spent $2 million in Puerto Rico relief this year - connected to Hurricane Irene in 2011.

Trump's remarks on Thursday cap those he said while visiting the island on October 3 when he said Puerto Rico's hurricane wasn't a "real catastrophe" like Hurricane Katrina and that response to relief efforts were "throwing our budget a little out of whack".

In the first week after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, Trump was roundly criticized for the government's slow response to provide aide.

Vox reported that conflicting numbers from the USA government and the Puerto Rican government have made it hard to estimate exactly how many people died - a figure that could go well into the hundreds. 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.

In a series of tweets, the president added, "electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes".

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Ryan says "we've got to do more to help Puerto Rico rebuild its own economy" but that the immediate humanitarian crisis must be addressed.

Cruz's comments were likely in response to early morning tweets Thursday from the president, where he said Congress needs to act quickly to provide relief because "FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been fantastic (under the most hard circumstances) in P.R. forever!" 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. By suggesting he might abdicate this responsibility for our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico, Mr. Trump has called into question his ability to lead.

"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.

Puerto Rico lost population and jobs after Congress eliminated special tax breaks in 2006, making it more hard to repay its debts. Katrina required about $110 billion in emergency appropriations.

FEMA continues relief efforts for even smaller, lower-profile recovery efforts, dropping millions of dollars this year on floods in Iowa from 2008, Tennessee from 2010, North Dakota from 2011 and Colorado from 2013. It has killed at least 45 people, and about 85 percent of Puerto Rico residents still lack electricity.

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