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Saturday, May 11, 2019
Tell Congress: Save lives in Puerto Rico. Fully fund disaster relief and rebuilding
Petition to the U.S. Senate: "$600 million for food stamps is not enough. Reject Trump's approach to Puerto Rico and fully fund critical disaster relief, reconstruction funding, physical and mental health care, food assistance expansion and long-term climate resilient solutions."
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Trump refuses to sign a hurricane disaster relief bill if it includes significant funds for Puerto Rico. He made it clear he will reject any bill for hurricane-stricken states and territories that includes more than $600 million solely for food assistance in Puerto Rico, even though even Senate Republicans agree that the island needs far more to rebuild.1 After Hurricane Maria crushed Puerto Rico, killed more than 3,000 Americans, and left millions more without electricity and reliable access to food and water, Donald Trump floated the idea of never rebuilding the island. Now, Trump is trying to make that idea a horrific reality.
We cannot let him get away with blocking aid to Americans in desperate need. Trump's intransigence is already driving a wedge between him and congressional Republicans – we need to ramp up the pressure to get Puerto Rico the help it needs.
With a new hurricane season approaching, Trump's policies will cost even more lives. Already, the Puerto Rican government cut more than 1 million people off of food assistance. And in a recent speech in Florida, Trump lied again about how much aid Puerto Rico already received. Instead of serving all Americans, Trump is trying to pit disaster survivors against each other with vicious lies.2 The manager of the world-champion Boston Red Sox even refused to visit the White House over Trump's Puerto Rico stance.3
Puerto Rico is the sticking point holding up a major disaster relief bill that would help Texas, Florida and Georgia as well – and Donald Trump is the only person standing in the way. Democrats are standing strong and recently voted down a bill that only had $600 million in food stamps for Puerto Rico. Some Republican senators want more funding than Trump. But their proposals are significantly less than what is needed to rebuild the island, provide continuing relief after the disaster of Hurricane Maria and improve Puerto Rico's ability to cope with devastating climate change.4
Trump's callous take on Puerto Rico is costing lives. He caused massive delays in aid efforts even as the elderly were dying due to the lack of medicine or electricity for ventilators and dialysis, then later tweeted that Puerto Ricans “want everything to be done for them.” Trump also accused San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz of criticizing the disaster response because Democrats put her up to it, insisted that Wall Street be able to profit off loans to Puerto Rico and said the disaster wasn’t a “real catastrophe” like Katrina during a trip where he tossed paper towels to desperate people like he was a game show host.
We need to turn the pressure up on Trump – and make sure corporate Democrats and Republicans continue to press to fully fund Puerto Rico's recovery.
The crisis in Puerto Rico is decades in the making and the result of a colonial approach to the island. First, it was the exploitation of the sugarcane industry. Then, Congress turned Puerto Rico into a tax haven for manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies. When Congress allowed those tax breaks to expire, the Puerto Rican economy collapsed and its government had to take on additional debt. Washington then imposed an unelected, Wall Street-backed “fiscal control board” to institute harsh austerity measures in response to that debt.
Puerto Ricans are American citizens – but have been treated like colonial possessions to be exploited by large corporations and then told they cannot manage their own affairs. They had no voice in Congress when our government was boosting oil and gas companies and are suffering now that climate change has supercharged storms and devastated the island. Now, Donald Trump is willing to let people die to serve his agenda. We can't let that happen.
Tell the Senate: Save lives in Puerto Rico. Fully fund disaster relief and rebuilding. Click below to sign the petition: