Trump lashes out at Puerto Rico as House passes aid package
WASHINGTON — After hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria blitzed the nation, most Americans think weather disasters are getting more severe and see global warming’s fingerprints.
A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that 68 percent of Americans think weather disasters seem to be worsening, compared to 28 percent who think they are staying the same and only 4 percent who say they are less severe.
And 46 percent of those who think it’s getting worse blame man-made climate change mostly or solely for the wild weather, while another 39 percent say it’s a combination of global warming and natural variability.
“Just with all the hurricanes that are happening this year ... it just seems like things are kind of mixed up,” said Kathy Weber, a 46-year-old stay-athome mom from Menomonie, Wisconsin.
When Hurricane Nate washed ashore in the Gulf Coast earlier this month, it was one of the first storms that Greg Thompson did not evacuate for. Thompson, a retired pest control researcher in New Orleans, said “it’s pretty irrational” that people and politicians can deny global warming when the Gulf of Mexico is so much hotter than decades ago and storms seem so much more powerful.
“When so many things are happening and so many of them (storms) are intense and so many of them are oncein-500-year levels and they’re all occurring, it’s a pretty good sign global warming is having an effect,” Thompson said.
— President Donald Trump lashed out at hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico on Thursday, insisting in tweets that the federal government can’t keep sending help “forever” and suggesting the U.S. territory was to blame for its financial struggles.
His broadsides triggered an outcry from Democrats in Washington and officials on the island, which has been reeling since Hurricane Maria struck three weeks ago, leaving death and destruction in an unparalleled humanitarian crisis.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, with whom Trump has had a running war of words, tweeted that the president’s comments were “unbecoming” to a commander in chief and “seem more to come from a ‘Hater in Chief.’”
“Mr. President, you seem to want to disregard the moral imperative that your administration has been unable to fulfill,” the mayor said in a statement.
The debate played out as the House passed, on a sweeping 353-69 vote, a $36.5 billion disaster aid package that includes assistance for Puerto Rico’s financially-strapped government. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the government needs to ensure that Puerto Rico can “begin to stand on its own two feet” and said the U.S. has “got to do more to help Puerto Rico rebuild its own economy.”
Forty-five deaths in Puerto Rico have been blamed on Maria, about 85 percent of Puerto Rico residents still lack electricity and the government says it hopes to have electricity restored completely by March.
Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence visited the island last week to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the island’s recovery. But Trump’s tweets Thursday raised questions about whether the U.S. would remain there for the long haul. He tweeted, “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”
In a series of tweets, the president added, “electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes.” He blamed Puerto Rico for its looming financial crisis and “a total lack of accountability.”