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Puerto Rico governor slams Trump for relief funds comments: "We are your citizens"

Puerto Rico faces food stamp cuts

Puerto Rico's Gov. Ricardo Rosselló slammed President Trump for opposing further disaster aid to the island and reportedly telling Republican senators he believed the U.S. territory received too many federal relief funds compared to states like Texas and Florida, which have also been battered by storms in the past two years.   

"The comments attributed to Donald Trump today by senators from his own party are below the dignity of a sitting President of the United States," Rosselló wrote in a statement. "They continue to lack empathy, are irresponsible, regrettable and, above all, unjustified." 

"Mr. President: Enough with the insults and demeaning mischaracterizations. We are not your political adversaries; we are your citizens," the governor added in his most stinging rebuke of the president so far. 

Mr. Trump reportedly told Republican senators at a policy lunch Tuesday that federal relief funds sent to Puerto Rico were "way out of proportion to what Texas and Florida and others have gotten," according to the Associated Press. 

In both public and private comments, Mr. Trump has repeatedly expressed opposition to increased disaster aid for Puerto Rico. The island, home to approximately 3.2 million U.S. citizens, continues to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane María, which killed nearly 3,000 people — as well as decades of financial instability

The president's reported comments and continued opposition to more federal aid to the island will likely precipitate another tense standoff with Congressional Democrats, who now control the House. The Senate will soon vote on a multi-billion dollar disaster assistance package that includes aid for Puerto Rico and states like California, Georgia, North Carolina and Alaska. House Democrats have vowed to reject any measure that does not include funding for the island. 

Rebuffing the president's "disgraceful" comments, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged his Republican colleagues to make sure the package guarantees federal relief funds allocated for Puerto Rico are released. 

"Help us pass a disaster package that addresses the needs, not of some, but of all disaster survivors; that addresses the needs of all Americans who are affected, not just those that president says come from a state or area that he happens to like," Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday. 

The president has repeatedly clashed with Rosselló and other Puerto Rican officials over federal assistance to the U.S. territory. His administration's handling of recovery efforts in the aftermath of María and Irma have been sharply criticized by some local residents, leaders and most Democrats in Congress. 

Recently, Rosselló has denounced the White House for considering diverting disaster relief funds to finance the president's long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and opposing $600 million in food assistance funding, which the White House called "excessive and unnecessary."