clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

The one thing only Trump can do to help Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico needs more money — but Trump needs to ask first.

President Donald Trump. Shawn Thew/Pool via Getty Images

As the crisis continues in Puerto Rico, there is one thing President Donald Trump — and only President Donald Trump — could do right now to help: ask for more money.

The island is currently in a very dire situation, described as similar to war-torn Iraq in 2003 by an Army Corps of Engineers official on the ground. People on the island are still without power, the ability to use phones, and basic supplies including food, medicine, and fuel.

Addressing the situation will require a lot of federal money. Trump is the one person who can ask for this funding and get the process started in Congress, as my colleague Alexia Fernández Campbell explained earlier this week:

It's going to require Congress to pass a relief package to free up more federal dollars to fix the island's infrastructure problems. But first, the White House needs to send a request to Congress for the money. Trump hasn't even gotten that started. …

So far, the White House hasn't announced plans to ask for similar help. Until that happens, federal workers are doing what they can to help Puerto Rico respond with the minimal amount of resources. But that won't be enough to rebuild the island. It won't even get the lights back on.

Trump was criticized for taking a few days to ask Congress for more money after other hurricanes this year, taking eight days to do so after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas. But it’s now been 10 days since Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico and left the US island without power.

As Puerto Rico waits, Trump has tweeted from his New Jersey golf club to complain about Carmen Yulín Cruz, the San Juan mayor who asked for more help, and the “Fake News Networks” that have been critical of the administration’s response to the crisis.

For more on the Puerto Rico crisis, read Vox’s explainer.