OPIOID SERIES:

Schumer wants ‘CEO of Response and Recovery’ for Puerto Rico

Schumer wants ‘CEO of Response and Recovery’ for Puerto Rico
© Camille Fine

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThrowing some cold water on all of the Korean summit optimism House Republicans push Mulvaney, Trump to rescind Gateway funds Congress should build on the momentum from spending bill MORE (D-N.Y.) on Sunday called for a "CEO of Response & Recovery" to handle the devastation in Puerto Rico.

"The response on Puerto Rico is unconscionable & demands new action," Schumer tweeted Sunday. "We're calling for a clear point person, a CEO of Response & Recovery."

Schumer said the CEO of Response and Recovery would work to coordinate emergency response activities among federal agencies.

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The person in the position would have a number of roles, including overseeing electric grid restoration and repairing and rebuilding.

The CEO would also "facilitate timely & accurate damage assessments to ensure PR receives all resources it needs in upcoming emergency funding bills" and would "oversee disaster assistance distribution & federal contractual arrangements to ensure that there is no waste, fraud, or abuse."

The Trump administration has faced backlash for its response to the crisis in Puerto Rico.

The territory is still reeling from Hurricane Maria. Much of the island is still without power and some residents still don't have access to clean drinking water.

In a statement, Schumer decried the fact that it has been more than a month since the storm hit Puerto Rico, but 80 percent of the island is still without power.

The CEO of Response and Recovery would "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," Schumer said. "It is clear, FEMA alone cannot get the job done."

Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and José Serrano (D-N.Y.) joined the call for such a position.
 
Velázquez said the Trump administration was caught "flat-footed" when Maria hit.

"Everyone knew a historically catastrophic hurricane was barreling toward an island with vulnerable infrastructure, yet there wasn’t a meaningful plan in place to efficiently deploy federal resources," Velázquez said in a statement.

"The result has been a sluggish response, causing additional needless suffering among the people of Puerto Rico," she said.

The New York Democrat said people can't change what happened, but Trump can "change course and put the full force of the federal government to work assisting our fellow American citizens."

"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," she said.
 
Serrano said the CEO would help streamline recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.
 
"President Trump should take this as an opportunity to show he does care about what the 3.4 million American citizens in Puerto Rico are going through," he said in a statement.

Trump last week gave himself a "10" for his response to the hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico.

“We have provided so much, so fast,” Trump said, adding the disaster in Puerto Rico was "worse than Katrina."
 
— Updated at 2 p.m.