Speaker Mark-Viverito, Elected Officials Across the Nation Demand President Trump, Federal Government Deploy Additional Resources, Extend the Jones Suspension Period for the Humanitarian Crisis in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and 65 Elected Officials Call on the President To Increase the Relief Efforts that are Afflicting the Over 3.4 Million Americans on the Islands

City Hall – Today, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and a coalition of elected officials from New York City and across the country released a letter imploring the Trump Administration and the federal government to do more to aid in the relief to the millions of Americans suffering from the effects of Hurricane Maria which destroyed the islands on September 19th. Speaker Mark-Viverito additionally urged the administration to do everything humanly possible to reach every corner of the island which aid hasn’t been coming in fast enough. Also legislators have urged the President to suspend the 10 day period for the Jones Act as it is not a long enough time to be able to get much needed life-saving supplies to the people in Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands.

The letter states:

While there is certainly a FEMA and Department of Defense (DOD) presence in Puerto Rico and the USVI, it is increasingly clear that resources are simply not reaching the people quickly enough. This is undoubtedly a highly complex relief operation, with severe limitations on transportation both to and within the island. For this reason, we join the call made by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and 144 other Members of Congress for an immediate deployment of additional assets to both Puerto Rico and the USVI, which have also suffered unspeakable damage. Additional DOD assets can help centralize logistics, deliver food and supplies to remote areas and provide additional security, as reports of looting are beginning to emerge.

Full text of the letter below:

Dear President Trump:

We are writing as state and local elected officials from around the country to add our voices in calling attention to the grave humanitarian crisis currently occurring in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and in demanding that the Federal Government act immediately to deploy additional resources to the islands, lengthen the Jones Act suspension period, and expand the “local match” waiver for FEMA funds.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria have created a crisis unlike anything Puerto Rico and the USVI have ever faced and it requires an unprecedented response. Nearly the entirety of these islands is without power, hospitals are closed or unable to fully care for patients, the telecommunications system is devastated, and millions of U.S. citizens are living without access to food and water. The people of Puerto Rico and the USVI cannot wait one more day for relief.

While there is certainly a FEMA and Department of Defense (DOD) presence in Puerto Rico and the USVI, it is increasingly clear that resources are simply not reaching the people quickly enough. This is undoubtedly a highly complex relief operation, with severe limitations on transportation both to and within the island. For this reason, we join the call made by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and 144 other Members of Congress for an immediate deployment of additional assets to both Puerto Rico and the USVI, which have also suffered unspeakable damage. Additional DOD assets can help centralize logistics, deliver food and supplies to remote areas, and provide additional security.

Puerto Rico was already experiencing a serious financial crisis before Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck. In the midst of the current emergency, it is unthinkable to ask Puerto Rico to provide the required “local match” for FEMA funding after 180 days, as the Administration has proposed. Doing so will only divert resources away from the recovery where they are most needed. We again join our voices to the request from Congressional leaders to extend the length of this waiver to at least one year and to include non-emergency federal assistance.

We are encouraged that the Administration has finally heeded bipartisan calls to suspend the Jones Act.  However, a 10-day period is simply not long enough. The Jones Act already had harmful effects on Puerto Rico’s economy even before Maria and Irma struck. Recovery from these hurricanes will unquestionably take months if not years. We support the recommendation by Congresswoman Velázquez to extend this suspension to at least one year and believe that actions should be taken to exempt Puerto Rico altogether from this antiquated law.

We must do everything humanly possible to reach every corner of Puerto Rico and the USVI with food and supplies, as we also grapple with the desperately needed restoration of power to the island. The lives of 3.5 million U.S. citizens are hanging in the balance.

Sincerely,

Melissa Mark-Viverito
NYC Council Speaker

See all signatures – Trump Letter from NYC Council Speaker Elected Officials