The Donald Trump administration’s response to the unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the United States territory of Puerto Rico has been, by any objective measure, disastrous. He’s been slow to mount a response. He didn’t even publicly mention the crisis until Hillary Clinton chided him for it. He’s refusing to facilitate relief supply deliveries for corrupt reasons. Americans are dying. Now Trump has a plan for dealing with the catastrophe: make sure no one in Congress can get down there and see just how bad it is.
In an incredible development, Donald Trump is blocking members of the House and Senate from being able to travel to Puerto Rico on military vessels. His official reason is that he doesn’t want it getting in the way of the supplies that are being delivered by those vessels. But in the context of just how slowly and tepidly he’s been rolling out those supply deliveries, his excuse is utter nonsense – particularly when you consider that Trump is now planning to obtrusively visit the island himself.
Ten members of Congress were planning to travel to the island this week, but Trump has put a stop to it, according to an NBC News report (link). New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez is trying to visit Puerto Rico because of the large Puerto Rican population in his state. His spokesman spelled out precisely why the visit is important, and thus why Trump is trying to block it: “My boss is eager to get down there to assess the federal response thus far.” But Trump may not succeed.
Donald Trump can’t ban members of Congress from setting foot in Puerto Rico. All he can do is cut off their government methods of getting there. With everyone from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to rapper Pitbull sending relief to the island on private jets, don’t be shocked if Congressmen end up bumming a ride down there from someone outside the government.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report