Returning from a visit to Puerto Rico and witnessing the devastation and continuing needs for disaster relief firsthand, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has called for a “next generation Marshall Plan” to support and rebuild Puerto Rico.
Speaking to the Spanish American Merchants Association in Hartford, Connecticut, Blumenthal shared that he had seen children attending school in tents while in Puerto Rico. “If children were going to school in tents, if all the schools of Connecticut were closed or even in certain parts of our state, there would be a national outcry and uproar,” he said. “That’s the kind of energy we need to devote to Puerto Rico for the sake of the children there.”
Blumenthal demanded that the federal government release the funds that have already been appropriated by Congress. He also called for an end to the limitations on funding caused by the funding caps on Medicare, Medicaid, and nutrition assistance programs in Puerto Rico.
What’s a Marshall Plan?
The original Marshall Plan was $12 billion in aid for Europe in 1948, after World War II. The funds were used to rebuild the war-torn nations of Western Europe. The plan was named after Secretary of State George C. Marshall.
In 2017, Blumenthal was a cosponsor of the Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Equitable Rebuild Act, which was described as a Marshall Plan for Puerto Rico at the time.
Connecticut and Puerto Rico
Connecticut, Sen. Blumenthal’s home state, has a large Puerto Rican population. According to the most recent available figures, Connecticut has the largest percentage of Puerto Rican residents of any state in the nation. Half of the Hispanic residents of the state are from Puerto Rico. Blumenthal announced that Connecticut will provide $75,000 to support housing for new residents from Puerto Rico.
During his visit to Puerto Rico, the senator expressed pride in the Puerto Rican residents of his state. Still, he said that he wants people to feel free to remain in Puerto Rico.
“We should be opening our arms,” he said, “but, at the same time, we want the students, doctors, engineers, business people and lawyers – the talent – to stay here. Puerto Rico needs that talent. We don’t want to encourage a ‘brain drain’.”