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Florida lawmakers question Trump about Puerto Rico assistance

By on April 5, 2018

SAN JUAN – In a letter sent to President Donald Trump, U.S. Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) urged the federal government to do more to expedite assistance and disaster payments to Puerto Rico to help the island recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Maria more than six months ago.

“The timeliness and scope of the federal response has been slow, tepid and completely inadequate,” the lawmakers wrote. “As American citizens continue to go without water or electricity, federal partners on the ground are beginning to pull out of some of the hardest hit areas.”

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The lawmakers also criticized federal agencies for their delay in distributing the financial disaster aid passed by Congress in February, and questioned the bureaucratic process that prevents the island from gaining access to the funds.

“Additionally, we ask that you provide us with a status update on how much of the $89 billion of disaster aid has been apportioned thus far, and what percentage of that amount has been allocated to Puerto Rico,” the letter adds.

The missive, sent Tuesday, asks Trump to ensure that delays in his administration “are not causing needless suffering on the island” and restates the importance of a “swift response” that results in a quick recovery in areas such as education and infrastructure.

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“People in Puerto Rico are suffering, and bureaucratic red tape should never stop our fellow citizens from having access to electricity, safe homes, or a quality education,” the letter concludes.

A copy of the letter was sent to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

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