Amid some criticism from Democrats in Congress about the federal government’s disaster response to recent hurricanes that devastated much of the island of Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump on Tuesday declared that he was satisfied with the emergency relief work so far, and said he would visit the U.S. territory next week.
“That island was hit as hard as you could hit,” Mr. Trump said of Hurricane Maria. “Even Texas didn’t have 200 mph winds.”
“We have shipped massive amounts of food and water and supplies to Puerto Rico,” the President told reporters at a White House photo op, “and we are continuing to do it on an hourly basis.”
“Puerto Rico is very important to me,” Mr. Trump added, who said one problem is that it’s been tough to deliver aid immediately, “because it’s an island sitting in the middle of an ocean.”
“It’s a big ocean,” the President said.
But in Congress, Democrats see a different situation, as they have complained in recent days that the U.S. response is lacking.
“We cannot ignore the unfolding tragedy in Puerto Rico,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). “Congress must act now to help.”
For now, the Trump Administration has indicated that no extra aid request will be made for Puerto Rico until October – Democrats say that’s going to leave the island in the lurch for too long.
“Our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico have been devastated by Hurricane Maria,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). “Federal funds should be approved as soon as possible.”
Democrats pointed to Mr. Trump’s own Twitter feed in recent days, which has been consumed much more with the controversy in the National Football League over players kneeling during the National Anthem, than the fate of Puerto Rico.
“The time for tweets and talk is over,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer. “The American citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands need action and results.”