Senators Nelson (D-FL), Schumer (D-NY) and Cantwell (D-WA) led a group of 26 Senate Democrats yesterday in sending a letter to the White House outlining their top priorities for Puerto Rico recovery. Stressing that “strong and decisive leadership is needed,” the Senators identified eight areas for immediate action:
- All municipalities in Puerto Rico need to be included in the Individual Assistance Disaster Declaration.
- A Special Assistant for Rebuilding to the President should be created to create a single point of contact in the White House.
- Inclusion of funding and necessary emergency support for the Puerto Rico Medicaid program in any emergency request the administration submits to Congress.
- All appropriate resources must be allocated to quickly restore power to Puerto Rico in collaboration with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) in a way that is respected by PREPA’s creditors.
- The Department of Defense is uniquely qualified to meet some of Puerto Rico’s critical recovery needs and should be more involved in the efforts.
- Work with Congress to set the federal cost share at 100 percent on all categories of Public Assistance, including permanent repairs.
- Prioritize to restoring communications devices as quickly as possible.
- Ensure that FEMA, the Coast Guard, and DOD are working as quickly as possible to restore the Roosevelt Roads Naval Staten and other port infrastructure to make them operational.
The three leading Senators were joined by 37 of their colleagues: Sen. Markey (D-MA), Sen. Baldwin (D-WI.), Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Schatz (D-HI), Sen. Carper (D-DE), Sen. Hassan (D-NH), Sen. Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Hirono (D-HI), Sen. Van Hollen (D-MD), Sen. Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Cortez Masto (D-NV), Sen. Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Murphy (D-CT), Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Coons (D-DE), Sen. Kaine (D-VA), Sen. Brown (D-OH), Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Peters (D-MI), Wyden (D-OR), Casey (D-PA), King (I-ME), Murray (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Duckworth (D-IL), Stabenow (D-MI), Franken (D-MN), Harris (D-CA), Leahy (D-VT), Sanders (I-VT), Warren (D-MA) and Reed (D-RI).