Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett Introduces Legislation Asking for a Marshall Plan Type of Response for a Better Future in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
“As a proud member of Congress representing the U.S. Virgin Islands, I believe Trump’s latest divisive comment shows that the President has no idea what makes this country great, again,” stated Congresswoman Plaskett
Washington, January 16, 2018
Tags: Insular Areas
Washington, D.C. -Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (USVI), Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy, and Environment released the following statement regarding the introduction of The Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Equitable Rebuild Act of 2018:
"Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands are part of America, and the millions of people who live in these U.S. territories are Americans. Hundreds of thousands from these islands have served in the United States Armed Forces. Many have died in service to our country.
"A few months ago, Americans in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico suffered direct hits by two of the most powerful hurricanes ever to strike the United States. Homes, possessions, and businesses along with essential facilities like hospitals and schools were lost. Energy systems and other vital infrastructure were completely destroyed, leaving hundreds of communities without electricity or access to health care and clean drinking water. Large swaths of the revenue base necessary for normal operations collapsed. The recent supplemental for disaster assistance amounted to more than $13 billion dollars less than what was requested just for Puerto Rico; and yet, it is meant to cover expenses across three of the largest States in America in addition to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Aside from the relatively little funding that has been provided for recovery of these islands, many issues unique to their recovery have not been addressed.
"These shortcomings include failure to fix the calamitous Medicaid situation in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and failure to waive unworkable cost share requirements for FEMA and Army Corps projects, which could put federal funding out of reach. Disaster response legislation to date also has not eliminated disparities in the law holding back the ability of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to rebuild with more resiliency than woefully deficient pre-storm conditions, and has failed to extend important federal programs that currently leave out Americans in U.S. territories. This is not the message that Congress should be sending millions of our fellow citizens as they endure some of the darkest days in their history. These islands need a full recovery with a vision for a better future, and they need it now. That is why we have proposed The Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Equitable Rebuild Act of 2018.
"The Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Equitable Rebuild Act of 2018 is a Marshall Plan type of response needed for a better future in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. In addition to addressing immediate humanitarian needs, the bill takes steps to see that these territories not only recover, but also are able to rebuild in a way that fully empowers them to thrive. It contains provisions for strong recovery assistance without pulling local governments into a more deleterious fiscal situation. It allows the islands to use disaster funding to lay the groundwork for a more resilient and clean energy grid. It also strengthens farms and nutrition; addresses disparities in Medicaid and federal health programs; improves schools, college access, childcare and veterans facilities; and makes robust investments in infrastructure and economic development (including extending programs currently unavailable to Americans in U.S. territories).