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'Big decisions' ahead on how much to spend on Puerto Rico

30 September 2017

WASHINGTON-On the defensive over the pace of federal help for Puerto Rico, U.S. President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans cleared the way Thursday for more supplies and government cash for the hurricane-ravaged U.S. island.

"These are great people", he said.

A three-star Army general is spending his first full day in Puerto Rico - sent to support the hurricane response. "But it is a process in place to help rebuild the infrastructure and the power grids are shut down".

"Maybe from where she's standing it's a good news story".

During an interview later Friday morning on MSNBC, Rosselló said he is grateful for the federal help, as well as assistance that's been provided by 17 states.

Trump wrote on Twitter: "The fact is that Puerto Rico has been destroyed by two hurricanes". "So if you hear any announcements from other folks, whether it's the Newark Police Department, the Jersey City Police Department, any other police department, we welcome all the help, but that help can not be mobilized separately".

Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of the USA island's largest city, heatedly denied that. But under the Jones Act, foreign-originating goods must be dropped off in Jacksonville and then shipped to Puerto Rico via an exorbitantly expensive Jones-compliant vessel.

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The acting USA homeland security secretary is headed to Puerto Rico to see the devastation and meet local officials.

A new face took over control of the hurricane relief Thursday.

His tweets come after people on the island have said help is scarce and disorganised and food supplies are dwindling in some remote towns. However, many goods are stuck in the Port of San Juan amid logistical problems that include too few local truck drivers; clogged roads, particularly in inland areas; and a lack of electricity to operate port cranes.

"They're going very slowly, the aid isn't getting to people fast enough". President Trump has also been criticised for comments he made on the situation on Tuesday (26Sep17) when he said, "This (Puerto Rico) is an island sitting in the middle of an ocean".

Trump repeatedly asserted his administration was facing unprecedented challenges in responding to a storm "of historic and catastrophic severity" that has affected an island that is home to 3.4 million Americans.

The president returned to the issue of financing reconstruction on Puerto Rico on Friday.

The Trump administration had said earlier this week that there was no need to waive the Jones Act to Puerto Rico, because it would do nothing to address the island's main impediment to shipping, damaged ports.

'Big decisions' ahead on how much to spend on Puerto Rico