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WH Official: Puerto Rico Gaffe Was 'Slip of the Tongue'

Spokesman twice referred to American territory as 'that country'
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2019 9:09 AM CDT
Updated Apr 2, 2019 1:45 PM CDT
This Nov. 6, 2018, photo shows a tree that was split in two by Hurricane Maria near the Iguaca Aviary at El Yunque, Puerto Rico.   (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
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(Newser) – Puerto Rico is back in the headlines this week, as President Trump lashes out at its leaders, they lash back, and the Senate tries to figure out how much aid to deliver after the devastating hurricanes of 2017. "It is a mess," says an exec with the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense, when asked by Politifact to assess what's going on, at least in terms of the Senate impasse. "You could say that Democrats are holding it up," says Steve Ellis. "You can also say that the Republicans are not being as generous as the Democrats want." A guide to what's going on:

  • Disaster relief: In the Senate, Republicans blocked a Democratic measure that mirrors one from the House, saying it includes too much money for Puerto Rico and not enough for Midwestern states hit by flooding, reports the New York Times. Democrats, meanwhile, blocked a GOP measure, saying it didn't have enough for Puerto Rico. Neither measure even advanced to the floor, and more maneuvering was expected on Tuesday. Politifact has details on what each side is proposing.
  • A mistake: Puerto Rico is a US territory and its residents are American citizens, but a White House spokesman twice referred to the island as "that country" while complaining about how relief money has been spent, reports Politico. Deputy press chief Hogan Gidley later explained it as a "slip of the tongue." He also was asked about Trump's assertion that Puerto Rico's politicians "only take from the USA." Said Gidley: “He gave them a lot of money. They have mismanaged and misused that money. It hurts their people. That’s what he’s upset about.”

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