Trump Threatens To Abandon Puerto Rico Recovery Effort

U.S. Army helps deliver food and water in Puerto Rico. | AP Photo

U.S. Army 1st Special Force Command helps deliver food and water in the wake of the devastation left across the island of Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Trump: Military 'shouldn't have to be' distributing food in Puerto Rico

President Donald Trump said military personnel assisting in Hurricane Maria recovery efforts "shouldn't have to be" distributing food in Puerto Rico, again casting the U.S. territory's challenges as partially self-inflicted during a Monday press conference.

The president said that while federal agencies have provided "massive" amounts of food and water to Puerto Rico — where access to resources and power remains severely hampered by last month's storm — they should not also be expected to distribute them. Trump has previously said Puerto Ricans relied too much on federal government resources instead of a "community effort" to rebuild.

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“We have massive amounts of water. We have massive amounts of food," Trump said at the White House, where he spoke alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "But they have to distribute the food.”

Trump added: "We now actually have military distributing food — something that, really, they shouldn't have to be doing."

The president has singled out issues with infrastructure and other challenges in Puerto Rico that he said pre-dated the storm as hurdles in the path to recovery. He has also warned that he won't leave federal employees in Puerto Rico indefinitely.

"We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!" he tweeted.

The House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a $36.5 billion relief package for Puerto Rico and other impacted regions. It is headed to the Senate, where it is expected to be approved.

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