Territorial delegates seek urgent US help for Puerto Rico

Congresswomen Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU) and Stacey Plaskett (D-USVI) and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) led a letter seeking fair and robust federal emergency assistance for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and all U.S. territories affected by natural disasters in any emergency-relief bills.

The bipartisan letter was sent to House Speaker Ryan, Democratic Leader Pelosi, and the relevant House committees for federal emergency assistance. A

All five House members representing the U.S. territories co-signed the letter, as well as Rep. Norma J. Torres (CA-35), the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee with jurisdiction over matters related to territories and other insular areas.

The territorial delegates representing the territories and Ranking Member Torres also pledged they stand ready to support additional federal emergency assistance for hurricane victims and subsequent natural disasters impacting U.S. territories.

“We seek a firm commitment that the House provide fair and robust emergency assistance to U.S. territories devastated by natural disasters in any bills considered for the remainder of the Congress. The 4.5 million Americans living in the territories deserve no less. I am encouraged by recent statements from Republican leadership pledging emergency assistance for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, as they recover from these devastating hurricanes,” said Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam).

“As we all know, Hurricanes Irma and Maria left massive devastation in their wake, and the ongoing situation in the Virgin Islands remains dire. Congress must do our part when it comes to the recovery effort and that calls for much more effort and a much more vigorous investment,” said Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-USVI).

“Hurricanes Irma and Maria have been a disaster for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Currently, the islands have little or no reliable electricity, limited refrigeration, and very little gasoline and diesel fuel. Homes and businesses have been destroyed. For most of the islands’ residents the situation is dire. Congress must approve an aid package that is commensurate with the level of devastation and be certain that Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have equal access to all federal disaster relief programs, just like the citizens of the mainland United States,” said Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR).

“As Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs, I am proud to stand with the House Members representing the territories to ask for equal disaster-relief treatment for U.S. territories that states receive. Americans that live in the territories need access to the same types of federal resources, assistance, programs, grants, and long-term recovery funds in order to begin rebuilding their lives and economy,” said Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (D-CA).

“Our thoughts are with Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as they recover from the immense damage of these hurricanes, and we remember our time of need in 2009 after the tsunami. We stand together in support for the financial resources they need now, and equitable disaster response solutions for the territories always,” said Congresswoman Aumua Amata (R-AS).

“Federal assistance to the Marianas following Typhoon Soudelor was equivalent to the help that any other part of the United States receives from FEMA and SBA and all the other federal agencies that respond to disaster. We are very grateful for that response; and we believe that Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands deserve no less now in their time of crisis,” said Congressman Kilili Sablan (D-CNMI).

FEMA Administrator Brock Long and House Appropriations Committee Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) and Ranking Member Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) were copied on the letter.

Congresswoman Bordallo is the dean of the House delegation from the territories and a senior member of the House Natural Resources Committee, where she holds the federal government accountable for its special responsibility to Guam and other the U.S. territories.