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The Puerto Rico National Guard surveys the damage after Hurricane Maria, on September 21, 2017.EXPAND
The Puerto Rico National Guard surveys the damage after Hurricane Maria, on September 21, 2017.

Trump Suggests Puerto Rico Isn't Part of the United States After Senate Blocks Disaster Aid Bill

A year and a half after Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico, the island is still recovering.

Borinqueños continue to face power outages and water shortages. The agriculture industry is rebuilding from the storm's damage to local crops.

But President Donald Trump and Congress are sparring over aid. After Senate Democrats blocked a Republican disaster relief bill on Monday, saying Puerto Rico needed more funding, Trump complained the island had already received $91 billion, which is not true. He followed up with a series of tweets Tuesday morning suggesting Puerto Rico is not part of the United States.

"Puerto Rico got 91 Billion Dollars for the hurricane, more money than has ever been gotten for a hurricane before, & all their local politicians do is complain & ask for more money. The pols are grossly incompetent, spend the money foolishly or corruptly, & only take from USA...." the president wrote.

Since Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, Trump has been obsessed with avoiding comparisons to former President George W. Bush, who was widely panned for his response to Hurricane Katrina. Trump has repeatedly griped that Puerto Rico received too much relief money, while insisting he's done more than anyone to help the people there. Senior administration officials have said the president "doesn’t want another single dollar going to the island," according to the Washington Post.

Congress is deadlocked about Puerto Rico disaster funding. On Monday, the Senate blocked a relief bill that would have provided aid to victims of recent hurricanes, floods, and wildfires across the United States. Democrats said the $600 million included for Puerto Rican food stamps was insufficient; Republicans have been fighting to increase money for victims of Midwest flooding and tornadoes.

On Monday night, Trump criticized San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, calling her "crazed and incompetent," and saying she has done a poor job of leading recovery efforts. Cruz tweeted in response that the president is "unhinged" and had yet to answer for the deaths of more than 3,000 Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of Maria:

Many others, including Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello, called out Trump for his remarks insinuating that the island territory is not a part of the U.S.:

A new proposal on disaster relief is expected later today, according to the New York Times . Senate Democrats will sponsor a measure providing billions of dollars in aid for Puerto Rico, plus Iowa and Nebraska.

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