President Donald Trump on Thursday pushed back against federal aid for Puerto Rico as the House of Representatives prepared to weigh $36.5 billion in emergency relief for the USA territory and other hurricane-hit areas as well as fire-ravaged California. Some also noted that as the island was reeling from Hurricane Maria, the president was instead tweeting about NFL players' behavior during the national anthem.
Hospitals throughout the island have been running low on medicine and fuel, officials said.
Trump on Thursday sought to shame the territory for its own plight.
While he noted it was up to "Congress to decide how much to spend", he said: "We can not keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been fantastic (under the most hard circumstances) in P.R. forever!"
"These funds are vital right now, in the near term, to get the aid where it is needed most", said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, a Republican.
She added, "your comments about Puerto Rico are unbecoming of a Commander in Chief they seem more to come from a "Hater in Chief".
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pushed back shortly after Trump tweeted, asking the President why he "continue (s) to treat Puerto Ricans differently than other Americans" and saying FEMA needs to stay in the US territory "until the job is done". In response, the president has tried to portray the territory as in full recovery mode and has voiced frustration with what he considers mismanagement by local officials.
The House is on track to back 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.
Rosselló warned congressional leaders over the weekend that the US territory is "on the brink of a massive liquidity crisis that will intensify in the immediate future".
Almost three weeks after Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico, the vast majority of the island remains without power and the death toll from the storm has risen to 45, authorities said. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. tweeted: "There is still devastation, Americans are still dying". By suggesting he might abdicate this responsibility for our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico, Mr. Trump has called into question his ability to lead.
"We're all Americans, and we owe them what they need", she said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says the government needs to ensure that - in his words - "Puerto Rico can begin to stand on its own two feet".
The president's tweets on Thursday seemed to contradict Vice President Mike Pence, who during a visit to the island last week vowed that the administration would be with Puerto Rico "every step of the way". Luis GutierrezLuis GutierrezDem senator slams Trump's Puerto Rico remark: "What's out of whack" is your response Gutiérrez rips Trump's comments in Puerto Rico: "I wish he would stop talking about money" Ex-Puerto Rican official: San Juan mayor just wants to run for governor MORE (D-Ill.) said Thursday on the House floor.