Trump threat­ens to end Maria re­cov­ery ef­fort

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - NATION - By Philip Rucker and Ed O’Keefe Philip Rucker and Ed O’Keefe are Wash­ing­ton Post writ­ers.

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Trump served no­tice Thurs­day that he may pull back fed­eral re­lief work­ers from Puerto Rico, ef­fec­tively threat­en­ing to aban­don the U.S. ter­ri­tory amid a stag­ger­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Maria.

Declar­ing the U.S. ter­ri­tory’s elec­tri­cal grid and in­fra­struc­ture to have been a “dis­as­ter be­fore hur­ri­canes,” Trump wrote Thurs­day that it will be up to Con­gress how much fed­eral money to ap­pro­pri­ate to the is­land for its re­cov­ery ef­forts and that re­lief work­ers will not stay “for­ever.”

On Thurs­day, the House ap­proved a $36.5 bil­lion aid pack­age that would pro­vide hur­ri­cane and wild­fire re­lief fund­ing while bail­ing out the fi­nan­cially trou­bled Na­tional Flood In­sur­ance Pro­gram. The aid pack­age would also help Puerto Rico avoid run­ning out of cash. The dis­as­ter pack­age now awaits con­sid­er­a­tion in the Sen­ate

Three weeks af­ter Maria made land­fall, much of Puerto Rico, an is­land of 3.4 mil­lion peo­ple, re­mains with­out power. Res­i­dents strug­gle to find clean water, hospi­tals are run­ning short on medicine, and com­merce is slow, with many busi­nesses closed.

Trump on Thurs­day sought to shame the ter­ri­tory for its own plight. He tweeted, “Elec­tric and all in­fra­struc­ture was dis­as­ter be­fore hur­ri­canes.” And he quoted Sharyl At­tkisson, a tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ist, as say­ing, “Puerto Rico sur­vived the Hur­ri­canes, now a fi­nan­cial cri­sis looms largely of their own mak­ing.”

He also wrote: “We can­not keep FEMA, the Mil­i­tary & the First Re­spon­ders, who have been amaz­ing (un­der the most dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances) in P.R. for­ever!”

Car­men Yulín Cruz, mayor of the cap­i­tal city, San Juan, also tweeted a re­sponse, say­ing Trump “did not get it” and that he was “in­ca­pable of ful­fill­ing the moral im­per­a­tive” of help­ing the ter­ri­tory’s peo­ple. Cruz, who has been feud­ing pub­licly with Trump, called the pres­i­dent a “Hater in Chief.”

U.S. Depart­ment of De­fense

Puerto Rico Na­tional Guard sol­diers un­load a he­li­copter car­ry­ing re­lief sup­plies in Jayuya. Most res­i­dents have no power or drink­ing water.

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