At a rally on Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren's Puerto Rico speech slammed Trump for his Hurricane Maria response, suggesting that the president did a disservice to the island's residents following the devastating storm. Warren was in San Juan for a rally related to her recently-announced campaign to become the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.
During the rally, Warren spoke at length about the Trump administration's post-Hurricane Maria response. CBS News reported she asserted that "Puerto Rico has not been treated with respect." Politico added that Warren further emphasized that the White House didn't adeptly handle relief and recovery after Maria killed almost 3,000 people in September 2017. As the senator described via Politico:
In the face of the deadliest natural disaster in recent U.S. history, the president and his allies in Congress want to pretend nothing happened here ... The legacy of colonialism dies hard. I say that it’s time to change that.
Warren stressed that she wants to hold the administration accountable and suggested launching a formal inquiry into how the storm was handled by administration officials, Politico reported. For his part, Trump has always asserted that the administration handled recovery after Maria well, saying at a White House event in August 2018 that his administration "did a fantastic job" with storm response, CNBC reported.
During her speech, Warren also took Trump to task for suggesting in recent weeks that he might declare a national emergency and use related funds to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico. In the process, she slammed the president for rejecting the official death toll from the storm as too high in a tweet from Sept. 13, 2018. As Warren described via CNN:
Donald Trump won't even pay the people of Puerto Rico the courtesy of acknowledging the deaths of the people they love ... Now that he's caught in this fight to try to find funding to be able to build a monument to hate on the southern border of the United States, he looks over to Puerto Rico to see if he can take away unspent dollars that were designated for relief efforts.
Warren also suggested that Trump's potential use of disaster funding to finance the border wall could significantly hamper Puerto Rico's recovery. "Puerto Rico has suffered enough," the senator asserted via CBS. "We will not allow anyone to sabotage your recovery – not even the President of the United States."
The senator from Massachusetts also briefly discussed Puerto Rico's debt crisis. Politico reported that the U.S. territory has around $70 billion in debt and much of it is held by Wall Street businesses. Warren suggested implementing a Marshall Plan for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and a Territorial Relief Act to provide sustainable economic assistance and help eradicate debts, Politico reported.
Warren certainly didn't hold back when it came to offering her evaluation of the Trump administration's Hurricane Maria response in Puerto Rico. Her speech on Tuesday made it clear that she considers Puerto Rico's post-storm recovery a priority — and she'll likely continue to strongly advocate on the island's behalf as her bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination unfolds.