Senator Warren Urges President Biden to Fully Fund Hurricane Relief in Puerto Rico
“We are concerned that Puerto Rico will have difficulty covering the 25% local match, which could delay access to federal assistance for removing debris and making emergency repairs to public facilities and infrastructure.”
Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to President Biden asking to waive any local cost-share for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) aid to Puerto Rico.
On September 18, 2022, Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico, cutting off power to the entire island and leaving many areas under water. That same day, President Biden approved an emergency declaration to authorize the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FEMA to work in coordination on disaster relief efforts. Public Assistance grants issued by FEMA come with a requirement that states and territories shoulder a share of the cost of recovery. While these cost-share requirements can be adjusted to lighten the state or territory’s burden, this has not yet been done for Puerto Rico.
“In light of the continued concerning news about the devastation the hurricane has wrought on the island, which has prompted Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi to announce his request for a Major Disaster Declaration for all of Puerto Rico’s municipalities, as well as the ongoing economic challenges faced by the island, we write to urge you to waive the local cost-sharing requirements by setting the federal cost-share at 100% for Public Assistance grants issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to Puerto Rico,” wrote the lawmakers.
This letter was also signed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
For years, Senator Warren has fought for Puerto Rico:
- This week, Senator Warren joined a letter to President Biden supporting issuing a Major Disaster Declaration for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Fiona.
- In May 2019, Senator Warren re-introduced the 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.
- In November 2017, 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.
- In February 2020, Senator Warren wrote to the Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General (HUD OIG) requesting an inquiry into whether the Trump administration's delay in releasing emergency relief funds appropriated by Congress for Puerto Rico violated the Impoundment Control Act of 1974.
- In January 2020, Senator Warren sent a similar letter urging President Trump to waive Puerto Rico's local cost-sharing requirement following recent earthquakes and to ensure that the federal government fully cover recovery expenses associated with the emergency that has been declared in Puerto Rico.
- That same month, Senator Warren also joined colleagues in urging President Trump to support Puerto Rico’s request and issue a major disaster declaration for the widespread damage caused by the earthquakes that struck the island.
- In 2017, Senator Warren made the same request as the one being made today following the devastation of Hurricanes Maria and Irma in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
For information about Senator Warren’s work on Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, visit www.warren.senate.gov/puertorico.
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