WASHINGTON ― All Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee are asking the chairman to hold an oversight hearing on the Trump administration’s response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria.
“Our members are often looked to for answers regarding the federal government’s efforts to assist the people of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in securing the help they need in this time of crisis,” reads a Friday letter to chairman Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah). “Accordingly, it is appropriate that we exercise our authority in this regard, to hear from officials of the Trump administration, in a hearing, on the sufficiency of their efforts.”
Here’s the full letter, signed by 15 Democrats:
Their request comes at a time when Puerto Ricans are pleading for more help as the days roll by without access to clean drinking water, food, power or medicine. It’s been more than a week since the hurricane decimated the island last Wednesday, yet most of the 3.4 million Americans who live there still don’t have vital resources.
The stories are harrowing. People are painting “S.O.S.” on rooftops. Thousands of shipping containers with aid are collecting dust at the San Juan port, amid shortages of drivers and diesel. Doctors are being forced to set up temporary triage tents outside of destroyed hospitals to treat patients. About 40 helicopters are delivering aid, but that’s compared to 300 helicopters the U.S. dispatched for Haiti’s 2010 disaster. On Vieques, a neighboring Puerto Rican island, its 9,300 residents have only gotten water delivered in the last week.
FEMA and the Coast Guard have been providing some crucial aid, but there’s a growing sense that the Trump administration’s efforts are falling short ― and that the death toll could rise. At least 13 people have died so far.
“I am going to do what I never thought I was going to do. I am begging, begging anyone that can hear us to save…