Schumer, Senate Democrats push Trump to release full aid to Puerto Rico following earthquakes

Schumer, Senate Democrats push Trump to release full aid to Puerto Rico following earthquakes
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Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president Impeachment has been a dud for Democrats Trump insults Democrats, calls on followers to watch Fox News ahead of impeachment trial MORE (D-N.Y.) joined 33 other Senate Democrats on Tuesday in a letter calling on the Trump administration to approve full aid to Puerto Rico in the wake of a series of earthquakes that hit the island in January.

In the wake of a particularly strong 6.4-magnitude quake Jan. 7, “more than one million of our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico were still without power” more than two days later, the letter states.

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“Eight landslides had been recorded, over 2,000 individuals were in shelters including 125 minors, and the island’s communications grid was only 75 percent operational. Many schools have been closed indefinitely and will only be reopened upon inspection,” the letter adds, also noting at least one death has been reported, that of a 73-year-old man in the southern city of Ponce.

“These earthquakes make … even more unconscionable the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inaction disbursing the $8.3 billion in Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery funding appropriated by the United States Congress for mitigation projects in Puerto Rico,” the letter adds.

“There is no substantive reason to withhold this congressionally mandated disaster aid for our fellow Americans on the island, and indeed failure to disburse these funds has a damaging material impact on Puerto Rico and its residents. The bottom line is that this money must be made available to Puerto Rico now and failure to do so is in violation of Congress’ explicit intent,” the senators add.

Most recently, the island was rocked by a 5.2 aftershock Friday. Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced has declared a state of emergency, as have several of the island's mayors.