WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Congress’ response to hurricane devastation in Puerto Rico (all times EDT):
President Donald Trump is finally tweeting about Puerto Rico — but his message may not be well-received by residents struggling with the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.
Trump says in a trio of tweets Monday night that “Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble.”
Trump says the island’s electrical system was “devastated” and much of the island “was destroyed.” He’s also noting Puerto Rico owes “billions of dollars” to “Wall Street and the banks” which, he says, “sadly, must be dealt with.”
He says food, water and medicine are top priorities, and adds the words “doing well.”
His administration is facing steep criticism that its response to Hurricane Maria has fallen short.
The Trump administration says it is not planning to waive federal restrictions on foreign ships’ transportation of cargo to Puerto Rico and other areas affected by Hurricane Maria, as it did following hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security says officials believe there is sufficient capacity of U.S.-flagged vessels to move goods to Puerto Rico. Spokesman David Lapan said most of the humanitarian shipments to Puerto Rico will be through barges, which make up a significant portion of the U.S.-flagged cargo fleet.
DHS waived Jones Act restrictions during Harvey and Irma in order to move oil more quickly to the East Coast and make up for the loss of pipelines.
New York Rep Nydia Velazquez has asked for a Jones Act waiver for Maria.
The top Democrat in the House is calling upon President Donald Trump to deploy the military to help with the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico.
The island territory of more than 3 million U.S. citizens is reeling in the devastating wake of Hurricane Maria. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says Pentagon resources are needed for search-and-rescue operations, maintaining order, and help with transportation.
The California Democrat also said that the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands “deserve to know that their government will be there for them, without question or hesitation.”
The devastation in Puerto Rico has received relatively little media coverage compared to Harvey and Hurricane Irma, and President Donald Trump hasn’t brought much attention to it.
House Speaker Paul Ryan promises that Washington will make sure that the people of hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico will “have what they need.”
The Wisconsin Republican’s statement came as authorities struggle to provide adequate relief to the more than 3 million U.S. citizens on the island territory, which is without power and has seen terrible devastation.
Ryan said Congress is working with the administration to make sure Puerto Rico gets all of the help that’s required. Lawmakers approved $15 billion in hurricane relief in the wake of Harvey but tens of billions of dollars more is sure to be needed in the weeks and months ahead.
The tragedy has received relatively little media coverage compared to Harvey and Hurricane Irma, and President Donald Trump hasn’t brought much attention to it.