Washington, DC — The Puerto Rican Ornithological Society (SOPI, from its name in Spanish, Sociedad Ornitológica Puertorriqueña, Inc.) and the National Wildlife Federation urged lawmakers today to rise above “politics as usual” and swiftly deliver disaster relief for Puerto Rico. Disputes over disaster assistance for Puerto Rico and other issues have delayed consideration and passage of a disaster relief package in the Senate.
The $13.6 billion disaster supplemental before the Senate includes relief for Puerto Rico, which is still rebuilding more than 18 months after Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma hit the island, as well as assistance for other communities across the United States rebuilding in the wake of recent megafires, floods and severe weather. The House passed a $14.2 billion disaster aid bill in January that included emergency spending for Puerto Rico and states impacted by the hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters of 2018.
“We’ve made important progress recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria over the past year, but we still have work to do,” said Nathaniel González from the Puerto Rican Ornithological Society. “Now more than ever, we need Congress to help Puerto Rico rebuild, recover and invest in additional natural infrastructure development to help boost the island’s economy, support a more diverse ecotourism, and help create new jobs. These investments would help communities become more resilient and address the threat of climate change and hurricanes.”
“As Puerto Ricans are still working tirelessly to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, Congressional gridlock on disaster aid risks revictimizing the survivors,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We cannot afford for disaster aid to be a political football. We urge lawmakers to support our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and swiftly approve disaster aid that will accelerate the recovery and improve the resilience ahead of the next hurricane season, and prioritize the restoration of wildlife habitat, coastal wetlands, and natural defenses in future infrastructure packages.”
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