Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the devastating impact of Hurricane Fiona on Puerto Rico and making sure the island gets the support it needs to recover and rebuild. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:
As our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico continue to feel the wrath of Hurricane Fiona, we continue to monitor the situation here in Congress. Over the weekend, President Biden issued an Emergency Disaster Declaration for Puerto Rico, where 75% of the costs of emergency medical care, disaster response, and food distribution will be covered by the Federal Government.
Yesterday, I got on the phone with the FEMA Administrator and urged FEMA to approve Puerto Rico’s request to increase that figure to 100%, and to stand ready to approve a Major Disaster Declaration request to unlock not just response money, but funding needed to recover and rebuild And on the call were my colleagues, Representatives Velazquez and Espaillat, and I echoed the calls from my colleagues to ensure maximum flexibility for those applying for FEMA assistance, and to get federal funding out of the door ASAP. Puerto Rico desperately needs it.
Later this morning, I will join with the Hispanic Federation and a number of my colleagues to talk about additional steps we are calling on the federal government to take, including steps to strengthen Puerto Rico’s electric grid. The electric grid is almost 50 years out of date. It's particularly susceptible to hurricanes. It hasn't even been repaired since the damage Hurricane Maria five years ago put upon it. And yet we've given lots of federal money for the reestablishment or the rebuilding of the grid and very little has happened. So we need to focus on that issue as well as others.
Five years to the day after the arrival of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico needs help to recover from Hurricane Fiona. We need to make sure this time, Puerto Rico has absolutely everything it needs, as soon as possible, for as long as they need it.