Since President Trump hinted via Twitter that he is considering pulling aid from Puerto Rico before the damage caused by Hurricane Maria is resolved, he has been hit with a deluge of backlash from politicians on both sides of the aisle.
Even House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) had something to say about the president’s tweets. Ryan initially appeared to defend Trump when he said during his weekly news conference that Puerto Rico must eventually “stand on its own two feet.” However, he also argued that the federal government has a responsibility to help handle the “humanitarian crisis” on the island.
‘We’re in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. Yes, we need to make sure that Puerto Rico can begin to stand on its own two feet…But at the moment there is a humanitarian crisis has to be attended to and this is an area where the federal government has a responsibility, and we’re acting on it.’
There has been a greater sense of urgency from other lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat, in response to Trump’s comments.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) called Trump’s comments “heartbreaking” and noted that “we are all Americans, and we owe them what they need.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) also tweeted the following message at the president on Thursday morning:
‘FEMA needs to stay until the job is done and right now, it’s not even close to done.
‘Why do you continue to treat Puerto Ricans differently than other Americans when it comes to natural disasters?’
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-New York), who was born in Puerto Rico, released a statement saying that the president’s “most solemn duty is to protect the safety and the security of the American people.”
‘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 will not allow the federal government to abandon Puerto Rico in its time of need.’
Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-New Jersey), said that those who live on the island “are American citizens and they deserve the federal assistance they need to recover and rebuild.”
Hing also said that Frelinghuysen and the rest of the committee plan to “fully stand by” Puerto Rico and will “continue to be at the ready to provide the victims of these devastating hurricanes with the necessary federal resources both now and in the future.”
In response to the backlash Trump has received, the White House issued a statement committing “the full force of the U.S. government” to the Puerto Rico recovery. However, the statement also notes that “successful recoveries do not last forever.”
‘Our job in any disaster affected location is to help the community respond and recover from that disaster. We continue to do so with the full force of the U.S. government and its resources in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and other affected areas. Successful recoveries do not last forever; they should be as swift as possible to help people resume their normal lives. We are committed to helping Puerto Rico. Our administration is working with Governor Rosselló and Congress to identify the best fiscally responsible path forward.’
Featured image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images.