Rep. Perry defends Trump's Puerto Rico response on CNN

Staff report
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, talks about having a "meaningful Memorial Day" during the annual York County Memorial Day at Veterans Memorial Park, Sunday, May 29, 2017.  John A. Pavoncello photo

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry appeared on CNN Thursday morning to defend the federal government's response to recent natural disasters in Puerto Rico.

The York County Republican fielded questions from host Chris Cuomo, who started the segment by reading the latest tweets from President Trump on the crisis.

Trump: We cannot aid Puerto Rico 'forever'

Trump, who visited Harrisburg Wednesday afternoon to discuss his tax reform plan, pointed out that Puerto Rico was facing financial and infrastructure issues before Hurricanes Maria and Irma devastated the area.

"... We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!" Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

Perry said Puerto Rico's pre-hurricane issues were contributing to the "horrific problems" it now faced, and he defended the president against Cuomo's assertion that the tweets were, "at a minimum, insensitive."

"I think the point the president is making is that FEMA has a finite mission and finite amount of time to be there," Perry said.

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When Cuomo questioned whether the U.S. was doing enough to aid Puerto Rico, the Freedom Caucus lawmaker responded, "What is enough? ... Does every single person have to have power the next day?"

"They are doing everything the can," Perry said. "There is a limit to everybody's ability, including the U.S. government."

When Cuomo pointed out that FEMA has reported more than half the country is without power, and many citizens don't have access to food or water, Perry continued to ask how CNN would quantify success in the government's recovery efforts.

"So if the water gets there five minutes late, is that a crisis?" Perry asked. "... If half the country didn't have food or water, those people would be dying, and they're not."