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Shaheen, Hassan Call for Immediate Action to Support Relief Efforts for Puerto Rico

(Washington, DC)— Today, in a letter to President Trump, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined their Senate colleagues in calling for swift action to support recovery and relief efforts for Puerto Rico in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

“We have over three million American citizens who don’t have clean drinking water, electricity, access to lifesaving health services, means to communicate with loved ones, or basic necessities such as food and gasoline. Many are still trapped in their neighborhoods and remain isolated from help because roadways and infrastructure projects were decimated,” said Senator Shaheen. “We saw immediate action from the administration in Texas, Florida and other parts of the continental United States after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma – we urgently need the same meaningful and rapid response in Puerto Rico. Currently, federal efforts are being outpaced by the dire conditions evolving on the ground. While Congress focuses on passing a robust relief package, I strongly urge the President to heed the recommendations detailed in this letter, and to take immediate and purposeful action to help our fellow American citizens.”

“The administration must do more to provide immediate relief for the people of Puerto Rico, where over three million American lives are at stake,” Senator Hassan said. “As a former Governor, I know how important federal resources can be, and that is why I am deeply concerned to hear Puerto Ricans – including former Governor Garcia Padilla – tell me that they are not receiving the federal assistance that they so desperately need. Today, I urged acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke to ensure that the Department is doing everything it can to support our fellow Americans, and I will continue to press federal officials on the importance of urgent action to help Puerto Rico recover.”

The letter sent to the President includes specific recommendations to assist with immediate and decisive action to support relief and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, including:

  • a formal and full disaster declaration for the entire island;
  • the deployment of Department of Defense assets requested by the Puerto Rico Dual Status Commander;
  • allocation of appropriate resources to quickly restore power to Puerto Rico in collaboration with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) in a way that is respected by PREPA’s creditors;
  • inclusion of funding and necessary emergency support for the Puerto Rico Medicaid program in the Administration’s emergency request;
  • prioritization of restoring communications devices as quickly as possible;
  • and to work with Congress to waive the local cost share requirement for Puerto Rico, and set the federal cost share at 100 percent for all categories of Public Assistance, including permanent repairs.

The letter can be read in full here.

In a Small Business Committee hearing today, Senator Shaheen, the lead Democrat on the committee, pledged to prioritize efforts that will help deliver short-term and long-term loans and aid to small businesses on the island.