[Puerto Rico\Earthquakes\Hurricane Maria]
Rep. Joe Kennedy III: “For decades, the people of Puerto Rico have been deemed second class citizens by our government. That must end today.”
In a letter to President Donald Trump, Congressman Joe Kennedy III demanded a wide range of reforms and actions by his Administration to provide Puerto Rico with the sovereignty and support to rebuild.
As Puerto Ricans assess the damage caused by recent earthquakes, Kennedy outlined a litany of abuses and oversights carried out by the Trump Administration, as well as previous administrations, that have exacerbated debt, health care, and disaster crises on the island.
“In recent days, Puerto Rico and her people have been under assault from a barrage of earthquakes that have taken lives, decimated homes and businesses, and heightened fear in every corner of an island still recovering from Hurricanes Maria and Irma that hit more than two years ago,” wrote Rep. Kennedy. “The actions your Administration has taken since have only compounded their pain and demonstrated complete disregard for their suffering. For decades, the people of Puerto Rico have been deemed second class citizens by our government. That must end today.”
After detailing numerous decisions and callous comments made by President Trump and his Administration, Kennedy made the following demands and requested a response by January 31, 2020.
(1) An immediate major disaster declaration for Puerto Rico to allow for an urgent recovery from earthquakes that have caused nearly $1 billion in economic damage.
(2) Immediate dismissal of any plans to impose onerous, misguided conditions on aid funding.
(3) Immediate justification for withholding critical disaster aid funding beyond the legal deadline.
(4) Immediate reimbursement of $331.5 million for critical national security funding to rebuild Camp Santiago which was illegally stolen by your Administration to build a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.
(5) A commitment to not illegally redirect any additional military funding already committed to projects in Puerto Rico for the border wall.
(6) A commitment that your Administration will no longer reject long overdue reforms to the Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that millions of Puerto Ricans rely on.
(7) Immediate creation of a commission to expand access to mental health care on the island.
(8) Immediate consideration of reforms to PROMESA, including allowing the Puerto Rican government to make day-to-day decisions rather than an unelected, unaccountable financial board, a halt on debt payments until an independent audit of the financial board has been completed, and giving preference to protecting pensions and critical health and education programs from cuts.