Schumer calls on Trump to appoint
official to oversee Puerto Rico relief
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[October 23, 2017]
By Pete Schroeder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Charles Schumer, the
top Democrat in the U.S. Senate, called on President Donald Trump on
Sunday to name a single official to oversee and coordinate relief
efforts in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.
Schumer, along with Representatives Nydia Velązquez and Jose Serrano,
said a "CEO of response and recovery" is needed to manage the complex
and ongoing federal response in the territory, where millions of
Americans remain without power and supplies.
In a statement, Schumer said the current federal response to Hurricane
Maria's impact on the island had been "disorganized, slow-footed and
"This person will have the ability to bring all the federal agencies
together, cut red tape on the public and private side, help turn the
lights back on, get clean water flowing and help bring about recovery
for millions of Americans who have gone too long in some of the worst
conditions," he said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Democrats contended that naming a lone individual to manage the
government's relief efforts was critical, particularly given that the
Federal Emergency Management Agency is already stretched thin from
dealing with other crises, such as the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in
Texas and the wildfires in California.
The severity of the Puerto Rico crisis, where a million people do not
have clean water and millions are without power nearly a month after
Hurricane Maria made landfall, demand a single person to focus
exclusively on relief and recovery, the Democrats said.
[to top of second column]
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) departs after a
full-Senate briefing by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein
at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. May 18, 2017.
Forty-nine people have died in Puerto Rico officially, with dozens
more missing. The hurricane did extensive damage to the islands
power grid, destroying homes, roads and other vital infrastructure.
Now, the bankrupt territory is struggling to provide basic services
like running water, and pay its bills.
"Its tragically clear this Administration was caught flat footed
when Maria hit Puerto Rico," said Velązquez. "Appointing a CEO of
Response and Recovery will, at last, put one person with authority
in charge to manage the response and ensure we are finally getting
the people of Puerto Rico the aid they need.
On Thursday, Trump said the federal response has been a "10" on a
scale of one to 10 at a meeting with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo
The governor has asked the White House and Congress for at least
$4.6 billion in block grants and other types of funding.
Senator Marco Rubio called on Congress to modify an $18.7 billion
aid package for areas damaged by a recent swath of hurricanes to
ensure that Puerto Rico can quickly access the funds.
(Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Diane
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