September 29, 2017

Warren Joins Menendez, Booker, In Urging Trump to Use Defense Production Act to Hasten Puerto Rico Response

Crisis in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands is a Full-blown National Security Issue and "Demands the Use of Extraordinary Measures"

Text of the letter available here (PDF)

Washington, DC -  U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), today joined Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and eight of their senate colleagues to call on President Trump to use the authority given to him under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to more quickly respond to the disaster unfolding in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The DPA was passed in 1950 to give the federal government the ability to quickly mobilize vast private sector resources through the Defense Department to respond to crises. Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Ca.) also signed on to the letter.

Specifically, the senators requested the Federal Government use the Maritime Administration to deliver supplies in high demand; use the Civil Reserve Air Fleet to airlift more resources to the island and evacuate citizens with emergency medical needs; and use "Priorities and Allocation authority" under the DPA to access private sector resources to alleviate the crisis and restore critical infrastructure.

"As fuel and water supplies dwindle precariously low, damaged infrastructure from roads and bridges to ports and electrical lines exacerbate the already formidable challenges, and threaten to leave the island without power for months to come," the senators wrote.  "This is a prediction that would never be acceptable on the mainland and it should not be acceptable for the American citizens living on Puerto Rico."

"The scale of this natural disaster creates serious national security implications and as such, demands the use of extraordinary measures," the senators continued. "The federal government has the transportation and logistics infrastructure to help alleviate the immediate and overwhelming crisis currently facing Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  While the full scope of the devastation is not yet known, one thing is for certain - with quick and decisive action granted through the authorities in the DPA, the potential devastation on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands may be mitigated."

Earlier this week, Senator Warren joined her senate colleagues in urging President Trump to take swift action in response to the crisis, and wrote to Republican leadership to request that Congress be allowed to swiftly take up legislation that provides the necessary help to the U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands impacted by Hurricanes Maria and Irma. She has also joined in calling on President Trump to waive the local cost-sharing requirement for the hurricane response in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and for the federal government to fully cover recovery expenses, noting the challenging financial situation and extensive damage in both jurisdictions in calling for the waiver.

The full text of the letter can be found here.