U.S. Leaders Urge Action on Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico earthquakes

In the wake of the recent earthquakes that have plagued Puerto Rico, national leaders have spoken up in various contexts in support of their fellow U.S. citizens.

On January 13, forty one Members of Congress sent a letter to Ben Carson of HUD, demanding a face to face meeting about the disaster recovery funds which HUD has been withholding.

“Due to the new emergency at hand and the urgency of the situation, we are officially requesting an in-person meeting,” they wrote. “It is your responsibility as secretary of HUD to provide members of Congress an explanation as to why your department has chosen to violate the law by withholding these critical resources. Puerto Ricans have waited too long.”

The letter concluded, “It is time we are provided with real answers and a definite date for the disbursement of the CDBG-DR funds for the island.”

Members also wrote to FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor, saying they expect FEMA to “work to ensure that Puerto Rico receives all appropriate resources and assistance that it deserves.”

In addition, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González and legislators from Florida, including Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL) as well as Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Michael Waltz (R-FL), Bill Posey (R-FL), Mario Díaz Balart (R-FL) and Donna Shalala (D-FL), sent a letter to President Trump on January 11th urging him to make a “major disaster declaration” to provide immediate aid to municipalities as requested by Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez-Garced. Trump subsequently signed made this declaration on January 16th.

Other leaders speak up

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also led a delegation to Puerto Rico, promising to deploy National Guard personnel from his state. “[W]hat Puerto Rico needs the most is for the federal government to show up. Puerto Rico is a part of the United States of America but it’s rarely treated that way. Puerto Rico needs the US government to step up and really help in this moment of crisis.”

Presidential candidate Andrew Yang tweeted, “Puerto Rico has been through too much already. We should forgive their debt, make them a state and rebuild in earnest.” Other candidates sent messages asking the administration to help without delay.

Former president Barack Obama tweeted, “Our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico can use our support after this week’s earthquakes. They’ve shown their enduring spirit over the past couple years, and it’s up to us to pull together for one another once again. I hope you’ll support their recovery.”

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