We can not aid Puerto Rico 'forever'

The U.S. Capitol Building is lit at sunset in Washington U.S

The U.S. Capitol Building is lit at sunset in Washington U.S

Rubio said it is up to the oversight board charged with resolving Puerto Rico's debt crisis to determine how to address the island's debt, noting that private debt owed to investors with legal recourse can not simply be "forgiven" by the federal government.

Trump has been complaining about Puerto Rico's debt and infrastructure issues since the hurricanes made landfall and has claimed the mayor of San Juan has poor leadership skills. "Congress to decide how much to spend", he added.

Last week, after visiting the island to view relief efforts, Trump had asked Congress to approve an emergency aid package of US$29 billion for Puerto Rico.

"The minute you go anywhere as a first responder, and this would apply certainly to the military, you will try really hard to work yourself out of a job", Kelly said Thursday at the White House.

His broadsides triggered an outcry from Democrats in Washington and officials on the island, which has been reeling since Hurricane Maria struck three weeks ago, leaving death and destruction in an unparalleled humanitarian crisis.

Still, a separate Republican source who has been in touch with the administration on relief efforts in Puerto Rico questioned whether the President has a firm grasp on what his own administration is doing on the island.

"He seemed to like the idea, and said they would follow up and see what that would look like", Rubio said. The financial situation is more complicated than Trump's tweets suggest.

"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.

"The law establishes that the aid we are getting from FEMA has to be established for the duration of emergency efforts", he said.

Rubio said federal responders would likely be on the island longer than during a "conventional" disaster on the mainland but agreed they would not be there forever. Reassuring the island, Kelly said the United States will "stand with those American citizens in Puerto Rico until the job is done".

He continued: "I lived through it myself, a victim of floods on numerous occasions, had to clean it up, and I will tell you, nobody came to help us, we handled it ourselves".

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said on CNN's "The Situation Room" that he did not view Trump's tweets as a "threat" to withdraw aid to Puerto Rico and conceded he did not know why Trump decided to make those statements Thursday morning.

Acting Department of Homeland Security Elaine Duke will make her second trip to the island on Thursday.

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 measure now heads to the Senate, which returns from a weeklong recess next week.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.