Ben Carson: No intention of 'abandoning' Puerto Rico after hurricane

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Thursday pledged not to abandon hurricane-battered Puerto Rico after President Trump tweeted that federal emergency responders couldn't remain on the island "forever."

"I have no intention of abandoning Puerto Rico. They are a very important part of who we are," Carson said during a House Financial Services Committee hearing.

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"The people from Puerto Rico have contributed greatly to the culture of America," he told Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.), the top Democrat on the panel.

His comments came after President Trump issued a series of tweets on Puerto Rico on Thursday. 

"We cannot keep [the Federal Emergency Management Agency], the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!" Trump wrote in the first of a series of tweets.

The president also pointed to the island territory's existing debt and infrastructure issues as compounding the problems on the island.

Pressed by Waters if he agreed with the president's tweets, Carson reiterated his support for Puerto Rico.

"I think that our job is to make sure that we take care of the disaster that has occurred," Carson said.

Waters then pressed Carson on whether the American territory should be "shamed for its own plight?"

"I don't think it is beneficial to go around shaming people in general," he answered. 

“I am glad to hear you don’t agree with the president,” Waters responded, before turning to other housing matters.

The president's tweets come at a time when only about 10 percent of the island's 3.4 million residents have electricity, Puerto Rico's government said Wednesday. 

Guaynabo, a city the president and first lady Melania Trump visited last week, is also reportedly still without power

Democrats have slammed the president's tweets, with Sen. Tim KaineTimothy Michael KaineDemocrats turn on Al Franken Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank MORE (Va.) calling it "a stunning abandonment of our fellow Americans in their time of greatest need," and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAmerica isn't ready to let Sessions off his leash Schumer celebrates New York Giants firing head coach: ‘About time’ GOP should reject the left's pessimism and the deficit trigger MORE (N.Y.) asking why he treats Puerto Ricans "differently" than other Americans.