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February 6, 2020

Rep. Pressley Speaks in Support of Emergency Funding for Puerto Rico

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WASHINGTON – Today, in support of H.R. 5687, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief and Puerto Rico Disaster Tax Relief Act,  Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) spoke on the House Floor urging her colleagues to provide critically-needed emergency funding to Puerto Rico in wake of a series of devastating earthquakes on the island. The supplemental package passed out of the House on Friday February 7, 2020.

Congresswoman Pressley’s remarks as delivered are below and can be viewed here.

Thank you, Mister Speaker. I rise today in solidarity with the thousands of our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters, surviving the loss and trauma of ongoing natural disasters that have ravaged the island of Puerto Rico. The youth, the elderly, the ill, the unhoused, those in poverty and those living with disabilities that find themselves disproportionately harmed by the food and health care insecurity, the frequent power outages, the infrastructure collapse and barriers to transportation.

Just last month, 13-year-old Jaideliz Morena Ventura died due to chronic medical supply shortages. The only medical center on her island, Vieques, has not reopened its doors since Hurricane Maria three years ago. To this day, 240,000 students and their educators must stay home because their schools are still too unsafe to open. And 5,000 families remain displaced from their homes.  But the fear and anguish is not limited to those remaining on the island.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts proudly boasts the 5th-largest Puerto Rican community in the country. And in the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District, I represent 35,000 Puerto Ricans. I’ve borne witness to both their strength and their pain, for those that were displaced after Hurricane Maria and now call Boston home, to those who have called Boston home for decades, who fear for their family members who are still on the island. They share with me their ongoing fear for their family in Puerto Rico, facing ongoing threats to their homes and their lives. For too long, this Administration has turned its back on the people of Puerto Rico. It is shameful. And we must not allow it to continue.

I am grateful for the leadership of Chairwoman Lowey and Chairman Neal in working to organize this much needed funding package that we will vote on later today. I also want to recognize my colleague from New York, Representative Velázquez for her unwavering love, which has informed her unwavering fight for the island. And in my own district, I want to thank EBA, Chelsea Collaborative, Somas de Sabana Grande, the Puerto Rican Veterans Association, and many more.

I urge my colleagues to support this package, HR 5687. Thank you.

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