Washington - Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democratic minority, said yesterday that the damage left by hurricane Florence should require new appropriations to mitigate disasters, and that the privatization of assets of the Puerto Rico’s power grid should be decided on the island, not in Congress.
At a time when Florence is devastating parts of North and South Carolina, Pelosi said that President Donald Trump and his government should learn from the lessons left by the 2017 hurricanes, and propose new allocations to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) fund to address natural disasters in the region.
"The promise to ensure the welfare of every American citizen was not kept," Pelosi said at a press conference with her colleagues Nydia Velázquez, Stacey Plaskett and Sheila Jackson Lee, just days of the first anniversary of the disasters in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands due to Hurricane Maria.
In that sense, Pelosi believes that Trump does not understand how demoralizing it is for Puerto Rico to read a tweet that questions the magnitude of the devastation left by Maria.
When comparing the complaints of Congress Democrats about the federal response to Puerto Rico with the prudence of Governor Ricardo Rosselló, Pelosi said that the governor has to deal with "a sensitive instrument" -Trump- that does not respond well to criticism.
Velázquez thought that Rosselló's criticism of Trump's allegations without evidence -that the official estimate of Maria-related deaths and the lack of basic services it caused was a Democrats invention-, seemed a good start.
The Puerto Rican government accepted as an official estimate the figure of 2,975 deaths as stated by the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
"The governor does what he thinks is best to obtain cooperation from the President. I think he believes that others, like me, are going to denounce (Trump) when he lies," Velazquez said.
Pelosi does not believe that the fact that Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands delegates lack representation with vote might have been a limitation to obtain funds to mitigate the 2017 natural disasters. If the territorial status limits the response of Trump’s government, it will have to be questioned to the White House, she said.
Her spokesman, Julio Obscura, recalled that as House Speaker, Pelosi promoted that territories delegates could vote in the floor, but that Republicans eliminated the measure.
Meanwhile, Jackson Lee considered that in Trump’s government "they did not understand that they represent all Americans."
Plaskett pointed out that it was Congress that doubled the most recent supplemental appropriations resolution that Trump sent to mitigate the damage caused by 2017 natural disasters, which was finally approved in February 2018, and reached $ 81 billion.
At a time when the governor has asked for $ 20 billion just to rebuild the power grid and that Republican Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, presses on the matter, Pelosi stressed that the decisions on the privatization of PREPA´s assets have to be taken on the island.
"We want the privatization to be a Puerto Rican product, not dictated by the Committee (on Natural Resources)," said Pelosi, who, if polls on the November legislative elections are correct, may be House Speaker again in January.
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