Dem senators write DHS calling for accurate hurricane death counts

Dem senators write DHS calling for accurate hurricane death counts
© Greg Nash

Top Democratic senators are calling on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to accurately provide death counts in Puerto Rico following Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

“We urge you to provide all necessary resources to confirm that storm-related deaths are being counted correctly," the senators wrote in the letter to DHS Acting Secretary Elaine Duke.

The senators argued for an accurate death toll, saying the current count at 48 does not take into account what media reports say are about 450 more people who have died since the hurricane as well as 69 people who have been reported missing.

“The need for an accurate death toll is especially important because President Trump seems to be using the number of fatalities to determine the quality of the disaster response,” their letter continued.

“Given President Trump’s recent threat to withdraw relief workers from Puerto Rico, it is crucial that he and the public not receive erroneously low fatality totals,” the senators wrote. 

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Trump last week warned that this administration's response to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico cannot last "forever."

"We cannot keep [the Federal Emergency Management Agency], the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!" Trump wrote in a series of tweets.

He added that the island territory's existing debt and infrastructure issues compounded problems.

The letter from Democrats echoed the calls that Democratic House Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) sent to DHS last week.

Top upper chamber lawmakers, including Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Defense: Reports detail effect of transgender military ban | Watchdog auditing 8 billion submarine program | Warren questions top general on climate change Booker calls for sweeping voting rights reforms Warren praises Ocasio-Cortez in Time 100 MORE (D-Mass.), Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Health Care: DOJ charges doctors over illegal opioid prescriptions | Cummings accuses GOP of obstructing drug pricing probe | Sanders courts Republican voters with 'Medicare for All' | Dems probe funding of anti-abortion group Ex-Obama campaign manager: Sanders can't beat Trump Booker calls for sweeping voting rights reforms MORE (I-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinCongress opens door to fraught immigration talks McConnell: 'Past time' for immigration-border security deal Overnight Defense: Transgender troops rally as ban nears | Trump may call more troops to border | National Guard expects 3M training shortfall from border deployment | Pentagon to find housing for 5,000 migrant children MORE (D-Ill.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisEx-Obama campaign manager: Sanders can't beat Trump Pollster says Trump's approval rating in 2020 will be impacted by Dem nominee 20 Dems demand no more money for ICE agents, Trump wall MORE (D-Calif.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Budowsky: 2020 Dems should debate on Fox Overnight Health Care: How 2020 Dems want to overhaul health care | Brooklyn parents sue over measles vaccination mandate | Measles outbreak nears record MORE (D-Ohio), signed off on the letter.