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Ryan aims to help Puerto Rico stand on its own

13 Octubre 2017
Ryan aims to help Puerto Rico stand on its own

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

The death toll in Puerto Rico attributed to Hurricane Maria has reached 43, an official said on Tuesday, up from 39 previously reported, as islanders continue to fall victim to infections, bad road conditions and other consequences of the storm.

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The order directs agencies to consider expanding coverage in low-cost plans not subject to Obamacare rules - something experts say could raise costs for the sick.

Puerto Rico is struggling to recover after Hurricane Maria ripped through the island, leaving 44 people dead and cutting power and running water to much of its population, and its governor this week appealed to Trump for billions in additional federal aid.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined the criticism, tweeting: "It's truly sad to see @POTUS dismiss the suffering of Americans in #PuertoRico & #USVI".

Trump brought up the country's debt crisis in a tweet Thursday morning. He tweeted: "We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!"

Trump criticized Puerto Rico for "a total lack of accountability", saying "electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes". Even long after a site is granted Superfund status, designating it a priority for the federal government, cleanup can take decades-and even then efforts are rarely able to eliminate all toxins.

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. He says the U.S. will "stand with those American citizens in Puerto Rico until the job is done". The financial situation is more complicated than Trump's tweets suggest.

Asked for a response to Trump's remarks, the White House later said it was "committed to helping Puerto Rico" and working with local leaders and Congress "to identify the best fiscally responsible path forward".

It did not include the $18.7 billion and $27 billion requests made by Texas and Florida lawmakers, respectively, for rebuilding efforts from hurricane damage. "So, that's what we're striving for". Katrina required about $110 billion in emergency appropriations. An additional $577 million would pay for western firefighting efforts.

When he visited Puerto Rico last week, Trump said, "Now I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you've thrown our budget a little out of whack, because we've spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that's fine".

But conservatives argued that the longer Congress waits, the less excuse it has for not finding spending offsets.

Celebrities and politicians have responded to the threat by arguing that Puerto Rico needs more aid, not less (obviously).