Schumer On ‘Face The Nation:’ Puerto Rico Relief Efforts ‘Slow Footed,’ ‘Not Adequate’

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/CBS News) — Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) had strong words for President Donald Trump Sunday amid the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico.

“The president, instead of tweeting against the mayor of San Juan, who’s watching her people die and just made a plea for help, ought to roll up his sleeves and get to work here,” Schumer said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.” “The bottom line is at least for the first week and a half the effort has been slow-footed, disorganized, and not adequate.”

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Schumer’s remarks followed Trump’s criticism of the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, who has said the administration’s response was “killing us with the inefficiency.” The president tweeted Saturday that Cruz had “poor leadership ability.”

Schumer said the Puerto Rico response “needs the president to stop calling names, stop downgrading the motives of people who are calling for help.” Schumer called the response “not good” and urged the deployment of more military troops to the area.

Trump is set to arrive in the region on Tuesday to survey storm damage. Schumer said the president should have been on the ground much earlier.

“He should have gone to Puerto Rico earlier than two weeks. He’ll go Tuesday. That’s good. But two weeks after it hit. He was in Texas twice after that. Obama was up at Sandy two days afterwards. They say, ‘There are logistics that get in the way, but the president going makes a huge difference. And logistics didn’t get in the way in the past,” said Schumer.

As of this weekend – nearly two weeks after Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Mariasigns of progress were seen in San Juan.

Some buses are running weekend routes and engineers have cleared access to seven communication towers, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency says San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport can now handle 250 flights a day.

Millions across the island are also still without electricity, and residents are running low on food and water.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló visited ports in the U.S. territory on Saturday, where FEMA sent several shipments of badly needed supplies.

Meanwhile, Schumer said Sunday that Republican leadership’s efforts to provide tax reform through reconciliation “excludes Democrats” in the process.

“It’s the same process that led to the demise on health care. And let me just address one thing, John,” Schumer said, speaking to CBS News’ John Dickerson. “Speaker Ryan keeps saying it helps the middle class. That’s not true. What he’s saying and what the plan is are totally different.”

The Republicans’ plan, rolled out last week, aims to decrease the number of individual tax brackets from seven to three and lower taxes on businesses. However, it leaves many of the details — such as the income levels accompanying those tax levels — to the tax-writing committees in Congress.

Schumer noted that Democrats instead would like Republicans to consult their colleagues before rolling out a major tax plan.

He added, “They can’t just put down a plan and say, ‘Bipartisanship is you guys come over and do what we want,’ when it’s against our principles.”

Contributing: EMILY TILLETT/CBS News

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