Bossert: Trump Made Adjustments for Puerto Rico Aid Because of Debt

Jerome Frank
September 30, 2017

Duke was asked by reporters at the White House whether she was satisfied with the federal government's response to Hurricane Maria and the devastation it has wrought.

Tom Bossert, Trump's adviser, says the US government had the capacity to meet the island's needs after the storm hit on September 20.

Acting Homeland Secretary Elaine Duke used the phrase Thursday on the White House driveway, saying the federal response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria is "a good news story" and adding that "the relief effort is under control". "I know it is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane". "When you're drinking from a creek it's not a good news story". In his remarks as he departed for New Jersey, the president cited as he has before the unique difficulties in Puerto Rico given both the poor condition of its infrastructure before the storm and the intensity of Maria.

"Well, maybe from where she is standing it's a good news story. Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!"

Also as part of that effort, the USNS Comfort, a 1,000-bed hospital ship, was leaving the Virginia port of Norfolk on Friday for Puerto Rico.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke told reporters outside the White House Thursday that food, water and fuel shortages on the US island are "the fault of the hurricane" and that "the relief effort is under control".

Cruz, 54, was born and raised in San Juan, according to a biography on Puerto Rico's Chamber of Commerce website.

"When you look at Texas and when you look at Florida, it's a whole different level", Trump said.

"Again, Mr. Trump, we appreciate everything you are doing and we know it can be done faster", Cruz said.

Trump tweeted later that "FEMA & First Responders are doing a GREAT job in Puerto Rico".

Ramos told CNN that about 4,000 utility workers were trying to fix the power grid and 1,000 more were expected to arrive over the weekend from the U.S. mainland.

The government's response left retired Gen. Russel Honoré, who turned around the botched response to Katrina in 2005, fuming.

Dairy cows in a field in Manati Puerto Rico. The farmer who owns them used to have 670 cows. He's found more than 70 cows dead and had to bury them
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And FEMA Administrator Brock Long said the efforts have been hampered by damaged airports and ports on the island.

Ricardo Ramos, the head of Puerto Rico's power authority, said Friday that electricity has been restored to just 4.5% of the population.

If the government effort continues to appear outpaced by the scale of the disaster, there will inevitably be scrutiny of the man on whose desk the buck stops - Trump. He has however mentioned the disaster during several encounters with the press and during other engagements.

But the President has still gone about his normal business, including a trip to IN on Wednesday to promote his top political priority, tax reform.

"The electric power grid in Puerto Rico is totally shot. Food and water on site", he wrote in one post. On Thursday, the Pentagon has eight scheduled flights to deliver water, food, medical supplies and generators to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

She and adviser Tom Bossert blamed the media for the impression that the administration responded too slowly to the September 20 storm, which knocked out almost all power.

Even so, some of his answers seemed defensive. Yesterday you were focusing on a three-star general.

He also defended the timing of the Jones Act waiver, saying "that was not too late".

Asked about the reaction to her remark, Duke says: "There is so much more to do".

In another CNN interview on Friday Bossert mounted a strong defense of the administration's effort but conceded there were logistical problems to be surmounted.

"Whether we have to address or should address at that point their existing $72 billion of debt and how it's been restructured is something that I'll have to take my lead from the economists on", Bossert said.

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Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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