President Donald Trump on Friday said that “big decisions” loom about the cost of rebuilding of Puerto Rico in the wake of two severe hurricanes while relaying praise he said his administration had received from the island’s governor for its recovery and aid efforts.
“Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello just stated: "The Administration and the President, every time we've spoken, they've delivered,’” Trump wrote on Twitter Friday morning, an apparent reference to a Fox News interview that Rossello had given a day earlier. “The fact is that Puerto Rico has been destroyed by two hurricanes. Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!”
Trump did not clarify what “big decisions” are upcoming or how the price would factor into those decisions.
Puerto Rico remains devastated in the wake of two major hurricanes, Irma and Maria, that made landfall on the island this month. The storms, especially Maria, have left much of the island without power and many of its residents without shelter. Flights in and out of the island have been limited and access to supplies, including clean drinking water, remains spotty.
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Relief efforts in Puerto Rico thus far have been slower than those along the Gulf Coast for Hurricane Harvey or in Florida for Irma, in large part because of the added layer of logistical complications involved in supplying aid to an island. Criticism that recovery efforts have been slower have been compounded by Trump’s recent tirade against NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, an issue to which some accused Trump of paying too much attention at the expense of storm response in Puerto Rico.
The president has said that his outbursts against the NFL and its players have not distracted him from hurricane recovery efforts.
Trump had initially refused to waive the Jones Act, a law requiring intra-U.S. shipping to be performed by U.S.-flagged vessels, telling reporters earlier this week that he had left the rule in place at the behest of the U.S. shipping industry. By Thursday, Trump had reversed course, waiving the Jones Act at the behest of Puerto Rican officials.