WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks on the House Floor today in support of the bill on the Floor providing relief for Americans recovering from damage caused by hurricanes and wildfires in Flordia, Texas, the West, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Below is a video and a transcript of his remarks:
Click here to watch a video of his remarks.
“I thank the gentlelady for yielding, and I rise in support of this legislation.
“Mr. Speaker, millions of our fellow Americans in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands are looking to Congress and the Administration to work together to provide aid and assistance in recovery and rebuilding.
“I disagree with the President of the United States that we're going to leave Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands or any other American precipitously, before we have done the job we need to do. The recent hurricanes have left 3.6 million Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands still without power, fuel, clean water, food, electricity, and access to medical facilities. That is unacceptable, I say to the Administration.
“We are witnessing a humanitarian disaster of historic proportions, and it will get worse if we do not come together as a nation and bring to bear the full force of the federal government to assist. I thank the Chairman for bringing this bill to the Floor to effect that end.
“That's why I called on President Trump to muster every federal resource, every federal resource, to muster and ensure that aid and supplies can reach those who need them and to work on restoring power, water, and communications.
“Because many are still out of reach, we do not yet know the full extent of the damage and loss of life. Today's Washington Post has a front page story chronicling the tragedy that continues as of now to unfold in Puerto Rico, where nightfall brings complete darkness and diseases are spreading by way of contaminated water. The island has been plunged into the 19th century. The Virgin Islands shares that status.
“This supplemental must be followed in the weeks and months ahead by additional measures to provide disaster relief funding and financial assistance to bring the infrastructure of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands up to 21st century standards in order to prevent a repeat of what has occurred.
“According to a letter sent to the Congressional leadership on October seventh by the Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosello, the damage on that island is expected to cost as much as $95 billion, which 150% of Puerto Rico's gross national product.
“This funding package is an important step, though it fails, though it fails to provide urgently needed Medicaid funding to help the 1.6 million in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who rely on Medicaid for their health care. Congress must do its part and ensure that the resources are available. But it's up to the Administration to make certain that the resources we provide get to those who need them.
“So I ask my colleagues to join me in passing this bill, and I call on the President again to take every necessary measure to address this humanitarian crisis affecting our fellow Americans.
“And Mr. President, do not send a message to any American that we will turn our backs on them. That is not fair; it's not right; and you ought to correct the statement you made this morning. I yield back the balance of my time.”