Cantwell, Senate Dems Urge Administration to Immediately Fund Long-Term Rebuilding & Recovery Projects in Puerto Rico

More than a week after PR governor requested funds for road, water, utility repair, still no approval from FEMA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined six of her Senate colleagues to send a new letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long urging the administration to immediately greenlight the federal funds Puerto Rico needs to rebuild and recover following the devastation left by Hurricane Maria. This push comes on the heels of President Trump’s recent tweets that threw the federal government’s commitment to long-term projects and recovery efforts on the island into question.

While Puerto Rico’s governor submitted the request for funding over a week ago, the agency has yet to provide its stamp of approval on the federal dollars that would allow the Commonwealth to rebuild roads and bridges, water control facilities, public utilities, and more. The Democrats said that Puerto Rico needs a commitment that the federal government will be there to assist with the rebuilding efforts.

The letter was signed by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), as well as U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

A copy of the letter can be found below:

Dear Administrator Long:

We write to urge you to approve Puerto Rico's request for Permanent Work Public Assistance (PA) for damages caused by Hurricane Maria as expeditiously as possible. The scale of damages across the island is clear, and Puerto Rico should not have to wait any longer for this assistance to be granted so they can begin the process of rebuilding their infrastructure and communities.

It is our understanding that Governor Rosselló submitted a request for Permanent Work over a week ago. As you know, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Permanent Work, also referred to as Categories C-G PA, includes permanent repairs to roads and bridges; water control facilities; public buildings and contents; public utilities; and parks, recreational, and other facilities. Permanent Work funding from FEMA is the main source of federal assistance to help a community repair and rebuild its public infrastructure after a natural disaster, and there should be absolutely no ambiguity that the federal government intends to provide this crucial assistance to help Puerto Rico build back after Hurricane Maria.

In addition to approving Categories C-G as quickly as possible, we urge the Administration to work with Congress to increase the federal cost-share of these expenses for rebuilding and repair. As you know, Puerto Rico has faced a challenging financial situation for some time now, and we are concerned about the Commonwealth's ability to find the funds to pay the 25 percent local match that is generally required for Public Assistance. We call on the Administration to work with Congress to set the federal cost share at 100 percent for all categories of Public Assistance, including permanent repairs.

Thank you for your attention to this important request. We hope that FEMA and its other federal partners will work to ensure that Puerto Rico receives all appropriate resources and assistance that it deserves as the island continues to recover and rebuild.