President Donald Trump told officials Tuesday on a visit to the Puerto Rico that the destruction the U.S. territory has incurred from Hurricane Maria has hurt the federal budget.
“You’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico,” Trump said during a briefing at the Muñiz Air National Guard Base. He said the costs were justified, however, because the government “saved a lot of lives” with its relief provisions.
Trump highlighted statistics claiming that only 16 people have died in the hurricane so far, a minor count compared to previous weather catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina in 2005, where nearly two thousand were killed. However, as Vox noted, Puerto Rico has not updated these numbers in nearly a week, and there is reason to believe the toll could be higher.
The President’s visit to Puerto Rico comes as he has been criticized for his administration’s response to provide adequate and timely relief to the residents of the island, which is a United States territory. As of last Saturday, 55 percent of people did not have access to drinking water, and 95 percent were without power, according to the Pentagon.
Trump, along with First Lady Melania Trump, is spending a little over five hours in Puerto Rico Tuesday. In addition to this briefing, he will meet with hurricane victims, and partake in additional briefings with governors Ricardo Rosselló of Puerto Rico and Kenneth Mapp of the US Virgin Islands, as well as a greeting with the Navy and Marine Corps.