Congresspeople Ask Colleagues to Help Puerto Rico

Reps. Steny Hoyer, Nydia Velázquez, Carolyn Maloney, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez banded together to write a guest column in the Orlando Sentinel asking their colleagues in the Senate to pass the disaster funding bill that passed the house in February.

They told about their trip to Puerto Rico, where they saw children getting lessons in a tent. They asked their readers to imagine how they would feel if their own children had lost their school to an earthquake.

“Survivors of the earthquakes and of the devastating hurricanes of 2017 have already demonstrated substantial personal initiative in recovering from this disaster and getting students back to their classes as quickly as possible, but this solution is only temporary,” the authors wrote. “It is critical that they receive all of the federal assistance necessary not only to recover but to rebuild in a stronger, more resilient way that can prevent damage from future natural disasters.”

The congresspeople then called upon the Senate to take action.

“It is unacceptable that the Republican-led Senate,” they said, “sits on this critical bill, unconsidered, while thousands of our fellow citizens are living in shelters, are unable to attend school, or live without reliable power.”

Objections

The White House has said that Puerto Rico doesn’t need any more help or funding. The congresspeople answered that objection:

“Those who say the additional funding is unnecessary do not understand the substantial needs or the realities of the island. Yes, the Congress has appropriated $44 billion for Puerto Rico’s recovery following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, but the island is now responding to a separate disaster — a series of 500 earthquakes over magnitude 2.0 — that requires additional funding, and there is no reason why that assistance should be further delayed. In fact, aid previously allocated in response to the hurricanes cannot legally be used for earthquake recovery.”

The government agencies that have been delaying the funding already passed by Congress have also claimed that Puerto Rico’s government should not be trusted with the funds. The article also responded to that claim:

“Those who say we shouldn’t help the island because of corruption are peddling a false narrative to excuse their inaction. In fact, the FEMA officials on the ground confirmed that the Puerto Rican government is strictly complying with transparency and accountability measures and that those measures are among the most robust in the nation to safeguard taxpayer dollars.”

Request

“Following the back-to-back natural disasters suffered by the people of Puerto Rico, they deserve the same swift and full recovery effort that Florida, Texas, and any other state in our nation would receive,” said the representatives. “We must provide the emergency supplemental funding passed by the House, and we are urging Republican senators — particularly Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott — to ask Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put this bill on the Senate floor now. Words of support are not enough. Puerto Ricans deserve action.”

PR51st has an easy tool that lets you send an email to Senators Scott and Rubio automatically if you live inbox Florida. Click through to tell them that you are joining Reps. Hoyer, Velazquez, Maloney, and Ocasio-Cortez in asking the Senators to support the release of disaster funding for Puerto Rico. You can also ask them to support statehood for Puerto Rico, the only option that will produce equality for Puerto Rico.

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