Warren, Gillibrand Call For Billions In Comprehensive Federal Relief For Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona
Washington, D.C. – A week after Hurricane Fiona devastated Puerto Rico, leaving at least 16 people dead and hundreds of thousands more without power or running water, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to Congressional leadership, calling for billions of dollars in federal economic relief for the island. The letter was also signed by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).
“Puerto Ricans deserve urgent and equitable funding when faced with overwhelming circumstances such as Hurricane Fiona, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the increasing costs of food and other goods that compounded supply issues that the island was already facing… As a territory of the United States, it is our duty to aid them in any way we can,” wrote the senators.
Since Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 18, 2022, mudslides, floods, fallen trees, and power outages have devastated the island and left hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans without power, food, or water. The island is in dire need of robust, immediate, and long-term assistance in order to recover from Fiona and to upgrade its infrastructure to be resilient against future hurricanes.
“The full scope of the damage [from Hurricane Fiona] is not entirely clear, but it is certain that Puerto Rico will need robust, immediate, and long-term assistance with recovery, mitigation, and developing resiliency for its critical infrastructure. Agencies such as FEMA will also need to be given flexibility, support, and oversight to ensure that recovery and reconstruction funds reach local communities to avoid previous missteps,” continued the senators.
In the letter, the senators are urging Congressional leadership to:
- Support $1 billion in Nutrition Assistance Program funding to continue feeding Puerto Ricans who were already suffering from high food costs and supply issues prior to the landfall of Hurricane Fiona.
- Pass emergency supplemental funding as soon as possible in order to provide disaster recovery and relief support to the people of Puerto Rico, including at least $2.9 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund.
- Pass the Continuing Resolution with an anomaly for Puerto Rico to further contribute to its recovery and resilience.
Senator Warren has led efforts to deliver relief to Puerto Ricans in the wake of natural disasters:
- Last week, Senator Warren led a letter to President Biden asking for the federal government to cover the full cost of FEMA aid to Puerto Rico. President Biden heeded this request.
- Also last week, Senator Warren joined a letter to President Biden supporting issuing a Major Disaster Declaration for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Fiona. President Biden also heeded this request.
- In May 2019, Senator Warren re-introduced her U.S. Territorial Relief Act, to provide a pathway to comprehensive debt relief for Puerto Rico and other disaster-ravaged U.S. territories so they can recover and rebuild with dignity.
- After Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Senator Warren worked with Senator Sanders to author a “Marshall Plan” for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This comprehensive legislation would address the immediate humanitarian needs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and ensure that the islands not only recover, but are able to rebuild in a way that empowers them to thrive.
For information about Senator Warren’s work on Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, visit www.warren.senate.gov/puertorico.
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