President Donald Trump criticized the Puerto Rican government again by saying that the United States couldn't keep aid personnel on the island forever, adding that “all infrastructure was (a) disaster" before Hurricane Maria hit.
“We cannot keep FEMA, the Military and the First Responders, who have been amazing … in P.R. (Puerto Rico) forever! … Congress to decide how much to spend,” he tweeted.
This appeared to be Trump’s early morning warning to the House of Representatives, who are voting on a $US36.5 billion relief package. Representatives from Florida and Texas originally lobbied for $US40 billion.
The funds would be distributed among hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as California's fire victims. Of that amount, US$4.9 billion would be used in the form of loans to Puerto Rico to maintain its government operations past Oct. 31.
New York Congressperson Nydia Velazquez, whose constituents are primarily of Puerto Rican descent, said the funds for the island are "just the start." Some 85 percent of the island is still without electricity, and about half of the population remains without running water.
Prior to the devastating hurricane that hit the island Sept. 20, the island already suffered from a US$72 billion debt as a colony of the United States. Once the lower house passes the measures, as is expected, it will go to the Senate for approval later this month.
Trump offhandedly remarked that Puerto Rico was “messing up” the U.S. budget in his visit to the island last week. The administration has been widely criticized for its slow and limited aid to the Caribbean island, long under the yoke of U.S. colonial governance.