Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

FEMA actually can stay in Puerto Rico indefinitely

Representatives for the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what Trump meant by his tweets.

The words were taken by some as a hint at abandoning Puerto Rico.

The island was in financial peril before the storms Maria and Irma hit.

While he noted it was up to "Congress to decide how much to spend", he also said: "We can not keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been wonderful (under the most hard circumstances) in P.R. forever!"

Trump has pushed back hard at criticism of his administration's initial response to the disaster, accusing the media of exaggerating the devastation and minimizing relief efforts led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with support from the Defense Department.

The president's tweets set off a flurry of chatter online, given that the US territory is barely entering its third week with the majority of the population still without power and one-third without water.

Some conservatives displayed early signs of spending fatigue.

Ryan, the House speaker, planned to visit Puerto Rico on Friday.

"There is some concern about can we couple some of this (disaster aid) with reform measures", Cole told Reuters on Wednesday.

Lawmakers are expected to approve the bipartisan measure that will also provide relief to the storm-struck areas of Florida, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and leaders of both major parties have lauded the bill.

President Donald Trump is criticizing hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and says the government can't keep federal aid there "forever".

Power has been restored to about 12 percent of customers in Puerto Rico, according to FEMA, after Hurricane Maria slammed the island last month.

"They're basically three weeks now living in the 19th century", Rubio said. Reassuring the island, Kelly said the USA will "stand with those American citizens in Puerto Rico until the job is done".

But Trump's top legislative aide warned against expecting Washington's help for long-term infrastructure problems.

Figures of the latest exodus are unknown, but it is believed Maria's destruction has prompted thousands of Puerto Ricans to leave for the United States mainland, with most heading for Florida. Some $16 billion would go toward the National Flood Insurance Program to help it cover claims after reaching its borrowing limit.

The debate played out as the House passed, on a sweeping 353-69 vote, a $36.5 billion disaster aid package that includes assistance for Puerto Rico's financially-strapped government. The fund received a $15 billion injection from Congress in September after Hurricane Harvey and an additional $7 billion on October 1, the start of the federal government's fiscal year.

The national flood program, which is set to expire on December 8, is meant to help homeowners living in flood-prone areas that private insurers wouldn't cover and is already several million dollars in debt.

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