Pelosi Remarks at House Democrats’ Press Event with Nurses to Call for Additional Puerto Rico Aid

Oct 26, 2017
Press Release

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

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, House Democrats and registered nurses who were previously deployed to the beleaguered island through National Nurses United to share what they witnessed in the ongoing humanitarian crisis, and to call for additional aid in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you very much Congresswoman [Nydia] Velázquez for your great leadership, not just now in terms of the hurricane in Puerto Rico, but on the ongoing.  It’s an honor to be here with you, to be with our colleagues [Congressman] José Serrano, [Congressman] Luis Gutiérrez, Congressman [Adriano] Espaillat of New York.  Two of New York and Chicago, and Congressman [Darren] Soto has been very much a part of this as well. 

Our colleagues have spoken out on this subject.  In the interest of time, because we want to hear from our nurses,  I wish to associate myself with the full context of the presentation of Congresswoman [Nydia] Velázquez.  I think it is very, very important, and say thank you to nurses who have traveled home from the front lines of the crisis to tell their story. 

You pointed out a picture, I wanted to point out and I’m sure the nurses will too – all the places where the nurses brought health care, food, water, all over the island.  Thank you for saving lives, delivering hope and fighting for more relief.  But thank you all so [much] for the report that you gave on what is happening there.  It quite an indictment.  

One month after the hurricane struck – my colleague, Congresswoman [Nydia] Velázquez referenced some of this – millions of our fellow Americans are still facing a catastrophe of historic proportions.  And by the way there are more Americans in Puerto Rico than maybe 20 of our states, more than 20 of our states.  So this is who we are, so this is who we are.  

This month, as referenced, when the disaster relief package went forth, it’s just a down payment, a very early start to providing the assistance that Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands urgently need.  

Much more needs to be done to assist these communities now and throughout the long road.  And that long road, that step has to begin with a new energy grid in Puerto Rico.  

I think Puerto Rico will have the opportunity to leapfrog over some of the, shall we say, challenges that are there in terms of the grid and take the island into a beautiful future.

Our fellow Americans deserve to know that our government will be there for them without question or hesitation.  Whether it’s establishing that grid or addressing the health care, the Medicaid challenge that we might have.  We thought there was no question that we would have the full – substantial, a bigger amount – in the SCHIP [State Children's Health Insurance Program] than we have.  In fact, the SCHIP bill is problematic in other ways too.

It’s deeply disturbing that the Trump Administration continues to pat itself on the back.  Yes, we’re very proud of many of the FEMA workers who were there, they deserve credit and they deserve respect.  But just because something has been done, doesn’t mean that much more doesn’t need to be done.  

Seventy-five percent of Puerto Ricans, as has been mentioned, lack power, 35 percent do not have cell service, one million lack clean running water, one quarter of sewage treatment plants are still not functioning.  So let’s not pat ourselves on the back too much because we might break our arm in doing it, because much more needs to be done.

So we’re calling on President Trump and the Administration to treat this as a national emergency, with the urgency that Puerto Rico deserves.  That this next bill will be very, very substantial and particularly in the manner the Congresswoman [Nydia Velázquez] mentioned and not at the mercy of cronyism and incompetence which I believe the Whitefish contract was.

With that, I’m very pleased and honored to yield back to the Congresswoman.

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