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Congressman Luis Gutierrez

Representing the 4th District of Illinois

Gutiérrez Calls On Ryan & Pelosi To Organize Bipartisan Delegation To See Hurricane Maria Destruction In Puerto Rico

September 22, 2017
Press Release
“What little Puerto Rico had before Maria was literally blown away and in order to understand the scope of the damage and the magnitude of the recovery, Members of Congress need to see it with their own eyes.”
Issues: 

Washington, DC -- Today, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) released a letter he sent to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) today asking them to organize a bipartisan delegation of congressional leaders to visit Puerto Rico and see the damage caused by Hurricane Maria for themselves.  The Chicago-born Puerto Rican Congressman from Illinois says Puerto Rico faces unique challenges after the devastating hurricane that Members of Congress must see in order to appreciate the aid that is necessary to help the Island recover. 

Text of letter: PDF icon092217 LVG Letter to Ryan Pelosi re Hurricane Maria relief for PR.pdf

“This was no average storm,” Rep. Gutiérrez said in releasing the letter.  “It was a powerful direct hit that struck Puerto Rico when it was already down because of the economic situation, financial crisis, limited autonomy because of the federal takeover, and a barely adequate public health, power, and public services infrastructure.  What little Puerto Rico had before Maria was literally blown away and in order to understand the scope of the damage and the magnitude of the recovery, Members of Congress need to see it with their own eyes.”

In his letter to Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi, Rep. Gutiérrez writes of “the singularly tragic issues Puerto Rico is dealing with, on top of the unfathomable chaos and destruction Maria has caused.”  The storm’s damage is historic and comes on the heels of Hurricane Irma, which already weakened the Island’s power grid and infrastructure just two weeks ago.  The closest state is 1,000 miles away, the only language most Puerto Ricans speak is Spanish, and years of recession, an on-going financial crisis, and high levels of outmigration present unique challenges for the Island and its government.

Just this week, Speaker Ryan visited Houston to inspect damage caused by Hurricane Harvey and was joined by Republican lawmakers.  In his letter, Rep. Gutiérrez recalls a previous bipartisan congressional visit to Puerto Rico organized by a previous Speaker after a 1998 hurricane – which helped galvanize support for congressional action:

In 1998, Speaker Newt Gingrich led a bipartisan delegation to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Georges—a Category 4 hurricane that badly damaged Puerto Rico, but that is significantly dwarfed by the destruction of Hurricane Maria.  The Gingrich-led delegation resulted in congressional action and assistance worthy of the strength and resilience of the Puerto Rican people.  I hope that in the case of Maria, we can do the same.

Rep. Gutiérrez concludes his letter to Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi, saying:

You both know how close Puerto Rico is to my heart. We must respond swiftly and generously to help our fellow Americans.  I thank you in advance for your efforts and I look forward to working with you both to help pull together a bipartisan delegation together to visit the people of Puerto Rico and muster support in their hour of great need.

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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