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September 18th, 2020
Chair Grijalva: Administration Delays and Incompetence Cost Puerto Rican Lives, and Finally Approving Overdue Assistance is No Triumph

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said today ahead of the administration’s expected 9:30 a.m. Eastern time press conference in Puerto Rico to announce the release of a formerly withheld round of disaster aid that four years of Trump administration abuse and neglect have caused preventable deaths in Puerto Rico, and today’s announcement will not erase Puerto Rican memories of how the president has treated the island and its people.


“President Trump talks about Puerto Rico like an unwanted colony full of people he thinks are dirty and not worth helping,” Grijalva said today. “It will take years for Puerto Rico to repair the unnecessary harm this president and his incompetent assistants have caused the Puerto Rican people, and they won’t forget it. My focus now is working with Puerto Rican organizations, community groups, and the private sector to ensure the island receives the support it deserves and needs to rebuild.”


The Natural Resources Committee is holding a hearing on alternatives to Puerto Rico’s current political status on Sept. 25.


Trump has repeatedly insulted the people of Puerto Rico by suggesting he might trade the island after the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria, setting intentionally unachievable requirements for the disbursement of hurricane-related federal disaster aid, blocking federal assistance for ongoing earthquakes, and calling Puerto Ricans “dirty” and “poor.”


The Trump administration’s irresponsible decision to withhold Hurricane Maria disaster aid for Puerto Rico has restricted the island’s ability to rebuild its infrastructure. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has sought meaningful federal assistance to rebuild its now unreliable energy grid for years. Hospitals, roads, and homes have been left without power due to Trump administration negligence, causing countless Puerto Rican families to leave the island for a better quality of life. Local business have closed and investors have prioritized opportunities elsewhere, creating a spiral that will now take years to reverse even in the best circumstances.


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