US House approves disaster funds as Trump criticizes Puerto Rico


The House is on track to backing President Donald Trump's request for billions more in disaster aid, $16 billion to pay flood insurance claims and emergency funding to help the cash-strapped government of Puerto Rico stay afloat.

"Would we be blithely accepting predictions of another month - or more - to get the power restored? No".

Officials from the Department of Homeland Security are set to come to Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon to brief House members on recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, a senior appropriations committee Democrat, said during the House floor debate that the bill "leaves much to be desired", and her constituents "should not have to wait ... for the services they so desperately need".

"President, you seem to want to disregard the moral imperative that your administration has been unable to fulfill", the mayor said in a statement.

Maria slammed into Puerto Rico as the island was already struggling with a severe financial crisis, which forced the government to file for bankruptcy in May.

Congress is reportedly prepared to sign off on $6 billion in aid following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, as well as the California wild fires.

Trump said earlier Thursday on Twitter that Puerto Rico has a "total lack of accountability" and "electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes".

Trump's comments had prompted swift condemnation from some Democratic lawmakers, who said threatening to withdraw help from Puerto Rico would amount to abandoning U.S. citizens as the island struggles with the storm's aftermath.

The nation could "rally" to focus on Puerto Rico's long-neglected economic problems.

"It's not easy when you're used to live in an American way of life, and then somebody tell you that you're going to be without power for six or eight months", said Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, who represents Puerto Rico as a non-voting member of Congress. "It's not easy when you are continue to suffer - see the suffering of the people without food, without water, and actually living in a humanitarian crisis".

The House passed a $26.5 billion aid bill Thursday to help hurricane-hit states and Puerto Rico.

"He seemed to like the idea, and said they would follow up and see what that would look like", Rubio said.

On top of that, the death toll is expected to be higher than originally believed.

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"Or it could be one of those moments when you have this horrible storm and it took so long that things never really got better, and a lot of people left and never came back", he said. Conservatives on Capitol Hill issued new calls for spending cuts to help pay for the assistance as well as more transparency about how the money is spent.