Trump is ignoring a massive humanitarian crisis affecting 3 million Americans. A third of House Republicans are doing the same.
Donald Trump has handled the disaster in Puerto Rico with a callousness and indifference bordering on outright malice.
Between slow-walking military aid to the island, viciously attacking the mayor of San Juan, throwing paper towels at people with no water and power, and repeatedly refusing to allow foreign ships to enter Puerto Rican ports with supplies, he is whining about how ungrateful Puerto Ricans are and that FEMA cannot stay “forever.”
Trump is giving every impression he simply does not care about Puerto Ricans the way he did about people in Texas and Florida — either because they have no right to vote against him, or because they are mostly nonwhite, or both.
And Trump’s attitude has given many House Republicans the signal that it is OK to give Puerto Ricans the short shrift, too.
On Thursday, the House overwhelmingly passed a $36.5 billion aid package that will primarily be used to help rebuild Puerto Rico. Every single Democrat voted yes. But 69 Republicans — roughly one-third of the entire caucus — voted no.
This comes as a new report shows that the death toll might be much higher than is being officially reported, making the need for disaster relief that much more urgent.
here are the 69 Rs who just voted against critical disaster relief funds: pic.twitter.com/coHsPt7lTz
— Jesse Lehrich (@JesseLehrich) October 12, 2017
A particularly ignoble shout-out goes to all the congressmen from Texas who voted for Hurricane Harvey relief, but against Puerto Rican relief: Reps. Louie Gohmert, John Ratcliffe, Kenny Marchant, and Roger Williams.
Also of note on this list is Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, who went on CNN Thursday morning to proclaim the crisis in Puerto Rico was all a liberal media conspiracy.
Even Republicans who did vote in favor have treated Puerto Rico relief more like an annoyance to get over with than millions of real people who need desperate help. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who shepherded the bill through, warned Puerto Rico that it had better get back “on its own two feet.”
GOP contempt for Puerto Rico did not start with Trump. Republicans in Congress have long disdained the island for its horrific financial insolvency — overlooking the fact that this has more to do with Congress and Wall Street using the island as a tax haven than any profligate spending on Puerto Ricans’ part. But under Trump, Republicans have only grown more hostile.
One of the hallmarks of an authoritarian regime is a tendency to treat certain human lives as less than worthwhile. Trump has made this attitude clear toward Puerto Rico — and a shocking number of Republicans are now following his lead.