President Donald Trump in Dallas for a campaign rally on Thursday jeered Texas leaders in the crowd for their efforts to boost federal aid in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, two Texas Republicans, sat nearby as Trump pointed to each of them.
"They keep calling me for money," he said. "It wasn't even fair."
Trump continued, telling the crowd: "You made a fortune on the hurricane."
The 2017 Category 4 hurricane caused catastrophic flooding across a broad swath of coastal Texas, and as far inland as Fayette County, and was blamed for more than 100 deaths.
Following Hurricane Harvey, Gov. Greg Abbott requested $61 billion in federal aid to repair schools, replace trailer homes and build a storm surge barrier in Galveston Bay. Abbott estimated the total cost of Hurricane Harvey to the state, including damage to private property, to be as much as $180 billion.
But the storm surge barrier was at the front of Trump's mind on Thursday as he spoke at a campaign rally in Dallas.
"We want one more small request," Trump recalled state leaders telling him. "We want to build a dam in the ocean. ... It's only $10 billion."
"They're incredible salesmen," Trump said of the Texas lawmakers. "Can we give Texas an extra $10 billion for something that may work and it may not?"
Abbott proposed a $12 billion effort known as the "Ike Dike." Named for Hurricane Ike — which caused about $30 billion in damage, numerous deaths and damage to the natural environment — the coastal barrier would protect Galveston Bay from hurricane storm surge. Since the region is hit by a major hurricane about every 15 years, according to a report issued by Abbott's office, the coastal project would be designed to protect the Port of Houston, which is the second-busiest and fourth-largest port in the United States.
The Texas Democratic Party responded to Trump's comments on Twitter Thursday night.
"Texans lost everything after Hurricane Harvey," the tweet read. "Shame on you, Donald Trump."