In Puerto Rico, hospitals report they’re at capacity and struggling to maintain operations—part of a growing humanitarian catastrophe more than a week after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. The Pentagon says the majority of Puerto Rico’s 69 hospitals don’t have enough fuel to power electric generators, as the island’s entire electrical grid has collapsed. At San Jorge Children’s Hospital in San Juan, managers have repeatedly pleaded for diesel fuel as medical teams have faced blackouts of up to three hours. At the White House, a reporter asked President Trump Wednesday why he’s denied requests to waive shipping restrictions under the Jones Act, which would allow more food, water, fuel and medicine to reach the island.
Reporter: “On Puerto Rico, Mr. President, why not lift the Jones Act like you did in Texas and Florida?”
President Donald Trump: “Well, we’re thinking about that, but we have a lot of shippers and a lot of people and a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don’t want the Jones Act lifted. And we have a lot of ships out there right now.”
The president’s comment came as members of Congress said the Trump administration is blocking their attempts to visit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Washington Post reports that since Monday evening, the White House and Pentagon have denied lawmakers permission to use military aircraft to make the trips. Among those affected are at least 10 members of the House and Senate who were planning a trip for Friday.