Speech ● Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
For Immediate Release: 
February 7, 2020
Contact Info: 
Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in strong support of an emergency supplemental appropriations bill to assist our fellow Americans recovering from recent earthquakes in Puerto Rico. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery and a link to the video:

Click here to watch the video.
“Madam Speaker, history will remember this generation of Puerto Ricans for their perseverance, their courage, and their strength. Having endured two devastating hurricanes in 2017, they have had to cope with their heartbreaking aftermath, characterized by the Trump Administration’s failure to allocate resources properly, fairly, and effectively. Now, a series of powerful earthquakes have struck the island, causing additional damage and, sadly, loss of life. We have heard reports that, while much of the power transmission infrastructure that was rebuilt stronger after the hurricanes were able to hold up, the aging power plants they serve sustained damage.

“I will remind my colleagues that the people of Puerto Rico are our fellow American citizens. They are our brothers and our sisters. Their well-being is our concern. Their capacity to rebuild – and rebuild stronger – is our responsibility as the representatives of the American people, of all the American people. That’s what we do after natural disasters: we help our fellow Americans in need.

“Madam Speaker, I and several of my colleagues, will be traveling to Puerto Rico over the Presidents’ Day District Work Period. We will be visiting communities in the south of the island that have been hardest hit by these earthquakes.  Many of the same communities are still trying to rebuild from Irma and Maria. I was there in 2017 after the hurricanes, along with the Republican Leader. We visited with families who lost their homes, who lost loved ones, and who asked us to come back here to Washington and do something to help. We worked together to pass emergency funding and partnered on an effort to amend the Stafford Act to promote resilience by ensuring that structures are rebuilt to twenty-first century standards.

“When I return to the island later this month, I want to tell the people I meet that Congress hasn’t forgotten about them, that their brothers and sisters on the mainland are with them. I want to tell them that we took action to provide the additional funding the island needs to recover from this most recent disaster. I want to tell them that the Congress came together to approve the necessary funds to help communities on the island restore critical infrastructure and rebuild schools and housing.

“I want to tell them that we came through with assistance for repairing the energy grid and making it more resilient. I also want to be able to share with them that Congress made key tax reforms to give low-income Puerto Ricans some help with child care and affordable housing as they rebuild. That’s why I’m asking my colleagues to join me in passing this bill and making all of those things possible. When I go down to Puerto Rico in just over a week, I want to be able to tell the people there that this House did its job.

“Sadly, we have seen the Administration’s veto threat, which was little more than a denigration of our fellow Americans, accusing Puerto Ricans of corruption and being untrustworthy of receiving emergency aid. Shame on them for making that allegation, and shame on them even more if they veto disaster aid to Puerto Rico under such a spurious and hateful belief. House Democrats will continue to conduct oversight in order to ensure that the Administration does not continue to withhold critical, Congressionally appropriated disaster aid from the people of Puerto Rico who need it to rebuild.

“I want to thank the Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, Ms. Lowey, as well as the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Neal, for their hard work – along with members of their committees – on this package. And I want to thank Reps. Velázquez, Serrano, Soto, and Ocasio-Cortez for their leadership in advocating for Puerto Ricans in Congress. I urge my colleagues on both sides: vote ‘yes’ on this package. Keep faith with our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico.”