Trump slams Democrats for "celebrating" shutdown in Puerto Rico

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

/ CBS News

Congress returns to work amid shutdown

President Trump and his conservative allies are slamming some Democrats for traveling to Puerto Rico over the weekend as the longest government shutdown in U.S. history continues to drag on.

"I've been here all weekend. A lot of democrats were in Puerto Rico celebrating something," the president told reporters Monday morning before heading to New Orleans to attend the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual convention. "I don't know, maybe they're celebrating the shutdown."

A contingent of more than 30 Democratic lawmakers — the largest delegation to visit Puerto Rico — traveled to the island to discuss post-Hurricane Maria recovery efforts, unpopular austerity measures and federal investment to the territory with local officials. The delegation is also there to participate in fundraising events hosted by Bold PAC, a political committee that serves as the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' fundraising arm. Presidential hopeful and former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary Julián Castro also traveled to the island after launching his White House bid in San Antonio Saturday.

Puerto Rico, home to approximately 3.2 million U.S. citizens, continues to grapple with a prolonged debt-crisis and the destruction caused by two powerful storms.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters Monday morning that the president and administration officials have been trying to broker a deal with congressional leaders for the past days to reopen the government, which has been partially closed for 24 days. "We're here. I know it's not Puerto Rico. But it's pretty out here," Conway said.

On Sunday, Fox News host and vocal backer of the president Jeanine Pirro apologized for claiming during her Saturday interview with Mr. Trump that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was "partying" in Puerto Rico.

"Nancy Pelosi's in Hawaii over the holidays…Now she's in Puerto Rico with a bunch of Democrats and lobbyists enjoying the sun and partying down there," Pirro told her viewers on Saturday. Pelosi was expected to visit Puerto Rico, but a spokesperson for the speaker said she did not ultimately travel to the island with the delegation.

Lawmakers and the White House remain deeply divided in budget negotiations to end the shutdown. Facing stiff resistance from congressional Democrats, Mr. Trump is reportedly considering a proposal that would divert billions of dollars in disaster aid funds for Puerto Rico and several states affected by natural disasters to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

First published on January 14, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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