"We can not keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders" in Puerto Rico "forever", President Trump said Thursday, hinting at a possible limit on federal aid to the island territory where 3.4 million Americans have struggled to recover from two destructive hurricanes. Puerto Rico has about 24 industrial waste sites contaminated by industries including pesticides and battery recycling.
"It's not easy when you're used to living in an American way of life, and then somebody tells 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.
Puerto Rico is burdened with almost $72 billion in pre-hurricane debt being overseen by a federally created oversight board. "The federal government should stay in Puerto Rico as long as necessary", Sen. "There will be a period in which we hope sooner rather than later, the U.S. military and FEMA, generally speaking can withdraw because then the government and people of Puerto Rico are recovering sufficiently to start the process of rebuilding".
"Mr. President, you seem to want to disregard the moral imperative that your administration has been unable to fulfill", the mayor said in a statement.
Ryan said he didn't know about Trump's tweets.
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. The death toll in Florida after Hurricane Irma, which made landfall on September 10, also reached 75, the Miami Herald reported, not counting the more than 38 people who died in the Caribbean.
Former Republican Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno said he was baffled by the President's tweets.
"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.
Democrats said Trump's tweets were deplorable, given that the 3 million-plus USA citizens on Puerto Rico are confronting the kind of hardships that would draw howls of outrage if they affected a state.
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.
Bernie Williams, a Puerto Rico native, is lending a hand in Hurricane Maria efforts on the island along with Major League Baseball and the Yankees.
The House of Representatives approved a $36.5 billion disaster aid package Thursday to help victims struggling to recover from a string of devastating hurricanes and wildfires.