PUERTO RICO AND U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS RECOVERY EFFORT; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 154
(Senate - September 26, 2017)

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[Pages S6153-S6154]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




          PUERTO RICO AND U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS RECOVERY EFFORT

  Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. President, I want to start by saying a few words 
about what is happening in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands where, in 
front of our eyes on the television sets, we see a growing humanitarian 
crisis that needs our urgent attention.
  Hurricane Maria has left unimaginable devastation. Less than half of 
the population of Puerto Rico has potable water. Cell service is out on 
95 percent of the island, making it difficult to contact loved ones and 
call emergency services, and only 5 percent of the power grid in Puerto 
Rico is working.
  My office has been fielding hundreds of calls from across the State 
of Maryland, some from constituents who are eager and desperate to 
reach their loved ones, others from fellow Americans who are watching 
the devastation and who are asking us to act quickly.
  We all know that in the runups to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Texas 
and Florida braced for impact. We here in the Senate quickly organized 
to promise we would deliver the resources they would need to rebuild. 
We provided an emergency downpayment, and we gave them assurances that 
we would also stand ready to provide assistance when it comes to 
rebuilding.
  We need to make that same urgent commitment to the people of Puerto 
Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, our fellow Americans. The 
administration needs to bring to bear its full resources from the 
military, to the Army Corps, to FEMA to deliver critical supplies and 
access to people in all parts of those areas.
  We have heard that we might get an emergency request for 
appropriations in a week or two. We need to move much more quickly, 
given the urgency of the situation; 3.5 million of our fellow Americans 
should not be left to languish without water or power. That is not who 
we are. We need all hands on deck, and we need them now, so I hope we 
will move on to that.

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