By John Bowden, The Hill
President Trump on Tuesday blasted politicians in Puerto Rico, calling them incompetent while saying the “best thing” that ever happened for the island is “President Donald J. Trump.”
In a pair of tweets, which came just hours after the Senate rejected dueling disaster aid proposals on Monday amid a fight with the president over aid for the island, the president accused Puerto Rican officials of mismanaging funds provided for cleanup on the island after Hurricane Maria left thousands dead and a large portion of the U.S. territory without basic utilities last year.
“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,” Trump tweeted. “The pols are grossly incompetent, spend the money foolishly or corruptly, & only take from USA.”
“The best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico is President Donald J. Trump,” he continued. “So many wonderful people, but with such bad Island leadership and with so much money wasted. Cannot continue to hurt our Farmers and States with these massive payments, and so little appreciation!”
The president has repeatedly made the disputed claim that Puerto Rico was the recipient of the most disaster aid in U.S. history. A Washington Post analysis this week found that the island has actually received about $11 billion of $41 billion that federal agencies say is on the way.
The Senate bill would have provided $600 million in food stamp aid to the island as well as billions more in funding for recovery efforts for several states in the Midwest affected by flooding.
Senate Republicans urged Democrats to reconsider their support for the bill, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) calling the legislation “the only game in town.”
Trump lashed out on Monday shortly after the defeat of the proposed aid in the Senate. The president took aim at San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, accusing her of doing “such a poor job of bringing the Island back to health.”
“1 Billion Dollars to Puerto Rico, and now the Dems want to give them more, taking dollars away from our Farmers and so many others. Disgraceful!” Trump tweeted Monday night.
Trump has reportedly told senior administration officials that he believes Puerto Rico should not see any more federal aid other than food stamp funding and has reportedly directed aides to find ways to cut funding to the island.
“He doesn’t want another single dollar going to the island,” a senior administration official told The Washington Post.
Puerto Rico faced a costly cleanup in response to two devastating hurricanes last year that left most of the island’s 3 million residents without power or running water while thousands were killed and others faced debilitating injuries from storms.
Puerto Rico’s top politicians have responded by urging the president to return to the island to witness the state of cleanup and recovery efforts.