Trump faces backlash after threatening to abandon hurricane-hit Puerto RicoLast updated on Oct 13, 2017, 05:04 pm
President Donald Trump said federal aid can't continue "forever" to Puerto Rico, a US territory facing a humanitarian crisis after being hit by two hurricanes.
In a series of tweets, Trump said he may withdraw relief workers from the island and blamed it for its failing infrastructure.
Trump's comments have attracted a huge backlash from Puerto Ricans, and Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
Devastation caused by Hurricane Maria
Hurricane Maria killed at least 45 people while 100 others remain missing in Puerto Rico.
The island is home to 3.4 million residents who are US citizens. Three weeks after Maria hit, 90% of Puerto Ricans are without power.
The island has accumulated pre-hurricane debt worth $72 billion which a federally created oversight board is overseeing.
What Trump said?
Trump criticizes Puerto Rican infrastructure and more
Trump tweeted, "Electric and all infrastructure [in Puerto Rico] was disaster before hurricanes."
He added that Congress must decide how much federal money to give Puerto Rico for its post-hurricane recovery.
"We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. (Puerto Rico) forever!"
Trump showed more empathy to hurricane-hit Texas, Louisiana and Florida
During his visit to Puerto Rico last week, Trump criticized the island and its leaders by complaining that the recovery efforts had "thrown our budget a little out of whack."
Critics highlighted that compared to this, Trump showed more empathy for hurricane-hit mainland US states of Texas, Louisiana, and Florida.
The Trump administration was widely criticized for its inadequate response to Puerto Rico's recovery.
Puerto Rican official: Trump is "incapable of empathy"
Puerto Rican capital San Juan's Mayor Carmen Yulin said Trump's tweets signal his "desperation" and the "inadequacy" of the hurricane response. She said he's "incapable of empathy and frankly simply cannot get the job done."
Puerto Rico-born congresswoman Nydia Velazquez called Trump's comments "outrageous, indefensible and irresponsible."
Many Puerto Ricans believe Trump feels they don't deserve the same level of assistance as mainland Americans.
Clarification: White House promises PR support "until job is done"
Following Trump's speech, White House chief of staff John Kelly said America would stand with Puerto Rico "until the job is done." He said the president was "exactly accurate" when he said federal rescue workers were "not going to be there forever."