After intense criticism for a lackluster response to the hurricane that has devastated Puerto Rico, Trump is now banning members of Congress from being transported to the island on military vehicles.
After days of withering criticism of Donald Trump’s slow and inadequate response to the aftermath of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, he is barring lawmakers from traveling to the island on military aircraft.
Multiple congressional aides have confirmed the new development to the Washington Post.
The move comes a few days after a trip to Puerto Rico by Democratic lawmakers prompted condemnation of his response to the crisis.
Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) went with a New York delegation to Puerto Rico. In an interview with CNN about what she had seen, Velázquez slammed Trump for obsessively tweeting about NFL players and the national anthem. She compared his reaction to former President George W. Bush’s infamously botched response to Hurricane Katrina.
“If you don’t take this crisis seriously,” she said, “this is going to be your Katrina.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) also visited Puerto Rico and had harsh words for Trump. After he returned, Rubio warned that there is the possibility of a “Katrina-style” disaster on the island.
“There’s going to have to be a lot more hands-on federal engagement for us to be able to successfully carry out the mission,” Rubio said.
Ten more members of Congress had plans to visit Puerto Rico, but the White House and Pentagon have denied permission to use military aircraft to make on-the-ground assessments. The administration is claiming that they need the resources for rescue and recovery, but would not speak to the Post to justify the sudden clamp-down.
Trump has since begun peppering his public remarks to Puerto Rico, a reversal of what he had focused on in the days before.
In a letter to Trump, 145 members of Congress have demanded a better response to the storm. The letter expresses the concern that the scale of Department of Defense assets “supporting the operation are inadequate.”
Thanks to this new directive from Trump, members will be unable to visit the island via the military to see if Trump and his administration is responding appropriately.