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UPDATE: Democrats Urge Immediate Bill to Help Puerto Rico, Houston’s Puerto Rican Community Organize Aid Effort

WATCH: Javier Ferrer, president of Houston’s Puerto Rican and Cuban Festival, speaks about a huge local relief effort to help the island.

THE LATEST on Puerto Rico: 

 

A group of 10 Democratic senators has requested that Congress immediately take up legislation to help the residents of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The lawmakers say a supplemental spending bill is needed right away because of the devastation brought by Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

They say the two U.S. territories need financial help to rebuild homes, provide temporary housing and repair vital infrastructure. Without it, they say the challenging road to recovery will only be prolonged.

The lawmakers are making the request as part of a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

They say, “as members of Congress, we have an obligation to ensure all citizens of the United States affected by natural disasters have sufficient resources to recover.”

Meanwhile, in Houston, local Puerto Rican community leaders are championing a huge aid effort to help. This was Houston Public Media’s live  interview with Javier Ferrer, president of the Puerto Rican and Cuban Festival:

 

 

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Congressional Democrats say President Donald Trump is not acknowledging the gravity of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-NY, says she is concerned that Trump’s continued tweets about NFL players show he doesn’t grasp the severity of the crisis.

She warned Trump that, “If you don’t take this crisis seriously this is going to be your Katrina,” referring to criticism of President George W. Bush following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Velazquez also said she was “offended and insulted” by Trump’s tweet that Puerto Rico’s public debt contributed to the crisis.

Rep. Joe Crowley, D-NY, called it “absolutely ridiculous” for Trump to mention debt “when people are suffering and dying. Here’s a president who’s used bankruptcy throughout his entire career.”

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President Donald Trump says he’ll visit hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico next Tuesday.

Trump announced the visit after the administration came under criticism for its response to the damage on the island that is home to more than 3 million U.S. citizens. The island has been coping with shortages of food, drinking water, electricity and various forms of communication after Hurricane Maria struck earlier this month.

Trump said Tuesday is the earliest he can visit without disrupting recovery operations.

He says he may also visit the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Trump says Puerto Rico is important to him. He says Puerto Ricans are “great people and we need to help them.”

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The top Republican leaders in Congress are promising help for devastated Puerto Rico, with Speaker Paul Ryan calling it a “humanitarian crisis.”
Both Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that they are working with the Trump administration and awaiting word on what resources and disaster relief will be needed.
Hurricane Maria has left millions of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico without food, water and housing. Ryan told reporters: “They need our help and they are going to get our help.”

Ryan said the $15 billion Congress passed early this month for hurricanes Harvey and Irma also applied to Puerto Rico.
McConnell said recovery efforts will not be easy.

On Monday, the top Democrat in the House  called upon  Trump to deploy the military to help with the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico.

The island territory of more than 3 million U.S. citizens is reeling in the devastating wake of Hurricane Maria. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says Pentagon resources are needed for search-and-rescue operations, maintaining order, and help with transportation.

The California Democrat also said that the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands “deserve to know that their government will be there for them, without question or hesitation.”

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President Donald Trump is thanking the mayor of San Juan for what he says are her “kind words” on the U.S. federal response to helping storm-ravaged Puerto Rico. But it wasn’t immediately clear what Trump was talking about.
Trump tweeted Tuesday: “Thank you to Carmen Yulin Cruz, the Mayor of San Juan, for your kind words on FEMA etc. We are working hard. Much food and water there/on way.”
It was Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló who had conducted a news conference Monday alongside FEMA where Rossello urgently called for more emergency assistance but also expressed gratitude for the help so far.
It was Cruz who criticized Trump for tweeting about Puerto Rico’s financial struggles during the humanitarian crisis, saying “you don’t put debt above people.”
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The U.S. has ramped up its response to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, even as President Donald Trump brought up the island’s struggles before Hurricane Maria struck. He tweeted about “billions of dollars” in debt to “Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.”
The Trump administration has tried to blunt criticism that its response to Hurricane Maria has fallen short of its efforts in Texas and Florida after the recent hurricanes there.
Five days after the Category 4 storm slammed into Puerto Rico, many of the more than 3.4 million U.S. citizens in the territory were still without adequate food, water and fuel. Officials said electrical power may not be fully restored for more than a month.

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