WASHINGTON — The Latest on the federal aid response in Puerto Rico (all times local):
The top Republican leaders in Congress are promising help for devastated Puerto Rico, with Speaker Paul Ryan calling it a “humanitarian crisis.”
Both Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that they are working with the Trump administration and awaiting word on what resources and disaster relief will be needed.
Hurricane Maria has left millions of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico without food, water and housing. Ryan told reporters: “They need our help and they are going to get our help.”
Ryan said the $15 billion Congress passed early this month for hurricanes Harvey and Irma also applied to Puerto Rico.
McConnell said recovery efforts will not be easy.
President Donald Trump is thanking the mayor of San Juan for what he says are her “kind words” on the U.S. federal response to helping storm-ravaged Puerto Rico. But it wasn’t immediately clear what Trump was talking about.
Trump tweeted Tuesday: “Thank you to Carmen Yulin Cruz, the Mayor of San Juan, for your kind words on FEMA etc. We are working hard. Much food and water there/on way.”
It was Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló who had conducted a news conference Monday alongside FEMA where Rossello urgently called for more emergency assistance but also expressed gratitude for the help so far.
It was Cruz who criticized Trump for tweeting about Puerto Rico’s financial struggles during the humanitarian crisis, saying “you don’t put debt above people.”
The U.S. has ramped up its response to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, even as President Donald Trump brought up the island’s struggles before Hurricane Maria struck. He tweeted about “billions of dollars” in debt to “Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.”
The Trump administration has tried to blunt criticism that its response to Hurricane Maria has fallen short of its efforts in Texas and Florida after the recent hurricanes there.
Five days after the Category 4 storm slammed into Puerto Rico, many of the more than 3.4 million U.S. citizens in the territory were still without adequate food, water and fuel. Officials said electrical power may not be fully restored for more than a month.