Emergency Supplemental Is “Completely Inadequate” for Puerto Rico and Gutiérrez Will Oppose
Washington, DC – Today in the House of Representatives, the next installment of hurricane relief funding for Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands along with relief for the California wildfires, is expected to be brought to the House floor for a vote. Given that the partisan package is wholly inadequate to respond to the severity of the disaster and crisis in Puerto Rico, Rep Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) announced he plans to vote against the measure.
Puerto Rico is still facing the effects of the most devastating hurricane in its history. More than three months have passed since Hurricane Maria hit and half of the island continues to live without electricity and much of the island does not have consistent access to clean water. House Republicans have introduced an emergency supplemental funding measure that would provide $81 billion dollars for recovery efforts spanning the U.S. mainland and the territories. Given that Puerto Rico alone needs an estimated $94 billion to recover from its historic devastation, the supplemental is completely inadequate. In addition, Republicans failed to designate any of the proposed funds specifically for Puerto Rico—something that will result in Puerto Rico being shortchanged in assistance.
“Given how the Trump Administration and the federal agencies have treated Puerto Rico in the face of this historic disaster, it is clear that the supplemental will do very little to help the Puerto Rican people recover,” Rep Gutiérrez said. “It is completely inadequate and we cannot depend on this Administration to distribute the $81 billion in relief in a fair and equitable manner to the people of Puerto Rico. Any funding bill for hurricane relief should designate exactly what the island of Puerto Rico will receive. I don’t trust President Trump or his Administration. Nowhere else in the U.S. would it be acceptable to allow citizens to live in squalor for months and months without electricity or water. We owe it to Puerto Ricans to get them what they need to rebuild the island, not insult and abandon them by tossing them paper towels.”
The measure, which will probably be voted on today, also expands the authority of the PROMESA Oversight Board, locally called the “Junta,” by giving them powers over hurricane funding. The bill also fails to include cost sharing waivers that Rep. Gutiérrez and others have called for and does absolutely nothing to address Puerto Rico’s Medicaid crisis.
“I guess the Christmas spirit of generosity from the Republican Party only extends to the Junta de Control and billionaires and not the people of Puerto Rico,” Rep. Gutiérrez said. “I cannot support a bill that claims to help Puerto Rico but actually shortchanges them, again.”
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
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