Alice Ollstein contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tore into President Donald Trump on Tuesday for complaining that the devastation Hurricane Maria left in Puerto Rico has “thrown our budget a little out of whack.”
“I don’t remember the President telling Texas that they threw our budget out of whack after Harvey, or Florida after Irma,” the minority leader told reporters.
Trump made the remark in Puerto Rico Tuesday, but his obsession with the cost of disaster assistance for the territory — and with its existing debt, which is now under the control of a federally appointed Fiscal Oversight Board — has been constant since the storm hit.
“Ultimately the government of Puerto Rico will have to work with us to determine how this massive rebuilding effort — it will end up being one of the biggest ever — will be funded and organized, and what we will do with the tremendous amount of existing debt already on the island,” Trump said Friday.
“Yes, we’re spending money in Puerto Rico,” Schumer said Tuesday. “We’re spending money to turn the power back on, to give people drinking water and to keep life support machines working in the hospitals, and that’s what we do in America. When one part of the country has trouble, the rest of the country reaches out to them and says, ‘We’re going to help you.’”
He added: “To have the gall to complain about Puerto Rico throwing our budget out of whack while proposing tax cuts for millionaires that will cost trillions of dollars boggles the mind. Boggles the mind. Mr. President, stop the blame game. Start making the situation better. That’s your job.”
During Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico Tuesday, he urged residents to “have a good time” — he said the same to Texans after Hurricane Harvey — and said the storm could have been worse, especially compared to “a real catastrophe like Katrina.”
However, the current official death toll from the storm in Puerto Rico, 16, is likely far from accurate. Trump cited the number Tuesday, but as Omaya Sosa Pascual of the Center for Investigative Journalism reported Tuesday, the real number will likely be far higher once the full toll of the storm is able to be calculated.