House Speaker Pelosi: “The Trump Administration must respond to this tragedy with urgency and compassion, and quickly grant the request for an emergency declaration so that emergency assistance can swiftly reach those impacted by this week’s earthquakes. The people of Puerto Rico cannot afford a repeat of the same failed response of the Administration following Hurricanes Maria and Irma.”
Several Democrats in Congress released statements regarding yesterday’s 6.4 magnitude earthquake in Puerto Rico, which is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria.
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) said the following:
“All the people of Puerto Rico, our fellow American citizens, should know that Americans everywhere are praying for them.
“We must ensure the federal government learns from the mistakes of the past and responds competently, compassionately and swiftly. It is wholly inexcusable that this Administration continues delaying assistance that Congress previously approved to rebuild after the 2017 hurricanes and, now, the Island has been struck by another natural disaster, causing loss of life, significant property damage and, at least temporarily, another Island-wide power outage.
“In the immediate term, my office will be in contact with the Government of Puerto Rico to determine how the federal government can be most helpful. Once Puerto Rico has taken the necessary steps, the White House must quickly declare an emergency declaration so federal assistance can flow rapidly. I have also been in contact with Congressional Democratic Leadership on this topic.
“To the people of Puerto Rico: be strong. We grieve your losses and we stand ready to help in your time of need.”
With earthquakes causing significant physical damage to Puerto Rico and widespread power outages, Members of Congress yesterday wrote the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Ben Carson, urging the agency to release previously approved funds that Congress provided in response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Members of Congress have previously urged the Department to release the $8.3 billion in Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) that were appropriated in June. In October, when the HUD Secretary testified before the Financial Services Committee, Rep. Velázquez also asked him why his agency had not released the funding.
“When Ben Carson testified, he told me they had withheld funds from Puerto Rico out of ‘common sense,’” noted Velázquez. “Not only does it defy common sense to withhold these overdue funds now, when the Island just suffered an earthquake, but doing so is immoral and illegal.”
In June, the President signed into law legislation that required HUD to issue federal guidance for the disbursement of the recovery funds by September 4th. Further, in December, Congress included in its end-of-year spending package a requirement that HUD hold off on a Chief Financial Officer reorganization, one of the Secretary’s top priorities, until steps are taken to release the recovery funds for Puerto Rico.
“We don’t know yet whether additional funds will be needed to help Puerto Rico recover from these recent earthquakes, but we know that withholding previously approved resources following this latest catastrophe is simply inexcusable,” Velázquez added. “Today, we are demanding that HUD follow the law and provide Puerto Rico with the assistance they were previously allocated.”
In addition to Velázquez, the letter was signed by: Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rep. David Price (D-NC).
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued this statement on the earthquake which killed at least one person:
“Americans from every corner of the country send our prayers to our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico who have been devastated by the earthquakes that struck over the past several days.
“The Trump Administration must respond to this tragedy with urgency and compassion, and quickly grant the request for an emergency declaration so that emergency assistance can swiftly reach those impacted by this week’s earthquakes. The people of Puerto Rico cannot afford a repeat of the same failed response of the Administration following Hurricanes Maria and Irma. The Administration’s willful withholding of Congressionally-approved assistance in the aftermath of those hurricanes has seriously undermined efforts to prepare for future disasters such as this, and risks senseless and preventable loss of life and damage now.
“As a Californian who has seen firsthand the devastation caused by earthquakes, I stand with the people of Puerto Rico during this difficult time, and offer the support of Congress in aiding with recovery, rebuilding and prevention efforts. Our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico deserve to know that their government will be there for them, without question or hesitation.”
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Tuesday said:
“My heart is with the people of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of yesterday’s and today’s earthquakes. Connecticut is proudly home to thousands of people of Puerto Rican descent, who know firsthand the devastation the island has faced in recent years. The administration should promptly issue the emergency declaration that Governor Vázquez requested earlier today. I’ll continue to monitor the situation, and do all I can in Washington to help Puerto Rico rebuild,” said Murphy.
Rep. John B. Larson (CT-01) has called for President Trump to grant Puerto Rican Governor Wanda Vázquez-Garced’s request for an emergency declaration for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico due to Earthquakes beginning on December 28, 2019, and continuing.
“After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico did not receive the federal assistance they needed to recover. More than three years later, houses are still covered in blue tarps. This past week’s earthquakes have resulted in further damage to the island. President Trump must approve Governor Vázquez-Garced’s request for an emergency declaration.
“The House of Representatives stands ready to assist Puerto Rico in any way that we can. The Trump Administration failed the people of Puerto Rico three years ago, we cannot allow them to fail our fellow Americans again.”