Pelosi Remarks at Gathering on Capitol Steps in Solidarity with Puerto Rico & U.S. Virgin Islands

Nov 2, 2017
Press Release

Contact: Ashley Etienne/Henry Connelly, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined House Democrats on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands following the humanitarian crisis in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi.  Good morning.  We come to the steps of the Capitol in a spirit of community and love for the people of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.  As we all know, this fall, Hurricane Irma and Maria devastated the people of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.  Our fellow Americans are still waiting for food, water and relief.  They need our help and they need it now.  It is long overdue.

This is a challenge to the conscience of our nation.  We are gathered on the steps of the Capitol to demand real life-saving action from the Administration.  Thank you to our Members for keeping up the drumbeat of action, and for shining a light on this crisis – and the press has done this too and we hope you continue to do so.  And with gratitude to the FEMA folks who are down there coming from all over the country to be helpful and to our military who is there as well, but it has been too little, too late.

The Administration has failed to devote the necessary, the urgent attention that this national catastrophe deserves.  Instead of delivering hope and doing everything in its power to deliver relief, the President has patted himself on the back and given himself a grade of ten out of ten.  Ten out of ten.  Well, we are all striving towards that ten.  House Democrats are fighting for recovery funding for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands so they can rebuild.

We are supporting $8 billion in Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico and waiving its local cost-share.  Cost-share is an actual barrier to success.  We will keep turning up the heat to bring relief and recovery to our fellow Americans still living a nightmare.  

We are so grateful to our colleagues in the Congress: Congressman Gutiérrez, Congresswoman Plaskett, Congresswoman Velázquez, Congressman Soto, Congressman Serrano – who have their local ties to the community.  You’ll be hearing from them as well as our Distinguished Whip Hoyer and the Chair of our Caucus, Mr. Crowley.  

Everyone on the steps has something to say about this.  We are all praying for the people of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.  We do not want anyone to prey on their difficulties – we want support, we want to give them hope.  Where is hope?  I always say it’s sitting right there, between faith, belief in ourself and our future and God, and love.  The compassion and charity we all have in our hearts.  From that faith, hope and charity, we hope to give them hope and we have a way to do it in the Congress.

My pleasure now to yield to a very strong leader on this subject whose idea it was to come to the steps, stand in front of the stone, pronounce our commitment to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Island: Congressman Luis Gutiérrez. 


As we began talking about giving the people of Puerto Rico hope – we said some of that should spring from faith, faith in the goodness of others.  That’s why our lapel signs here have two hearts – one for Puerto Rico, one for the Virgin Islands there.  California, as you know, we’ve had the fires – there’s a big sign there, ‘Love in the air is thicker than the smoke.’  

We have to make sure that love in the air is thicker than the disdain or the ignoring of what is happening in Puerto Rico.  We know that the hearts of the Members are full of love – we want that reflected and how that is conveyed in goods, services and respect for the people of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.  Thank you, my colleagues. 

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