Fighting Back: “We can never let what happened after Maria happen again.”

 
 

The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez of New York.

(Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Small Business Committee and the first Puerto Rican woman elected to Congress, delivered the Weekly Democratic Address in English and Spanish.)

“Puerto Ricans are American citizens. They serve in our military. They shed blood in our wars. They have died for our freedoms. And, yet, in Puerto Rico’s darkest hour, this Administration failed them.

“That is wrong and the Administration must be held accountable. So far, Congressional Republicans have failed to live up to their constitutional responsibility of exercising oversight regarding the failures of the disaster response.

“We need answers. That is why I have authored legislation creating a 9/11 style Commission to investigate the response to Maria. I have also introduced ‘The COUNT Act’, which will establish federal procedures for death tolls after disasters strike.

“A year after Maria, the American people deserve to know what happened to their fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. And, as the hard road of recovery begins for the communities devastated by Hurricane Florence, we can only pray this Administration has learned from their mistakes. We can never let what happened after Maria happen again.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

Transcript: Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez Delivers Weekly Democratic Address

“Hello. I am Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and I represent New York’s 7th Congressional District.

“As our fellow Americans in the Carolinas face the devastation of Hurricane Florence, we are reminded that this week marks one year since Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, and when Irma and Maria devastated the Virgin Islands.

“In Puerto Rico, Maria came ashore in my hometown, Yabucoa, as a Category 4 storm. Sustained winds, exceeding 150 miles per hour, ravaged bridges, roads and destroyed more than 87,000 homes – with another 385,000 being seriously damaged. Physical damages are expected to exceed $90 billion.

“The entire territory – all 3.4 million American citizens – lost power. Thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of residents would not regain electricity for nine months – marking the longest blackout in American history.

“It will probably remain forever unknown the exact number of Puerto Ricans who lost their lives from Maria. Earlier this month the Government of Puerto Rico finally acknowledged that Maria killed nearly 3,000 Puerto Ricans – after months of insisting that the official death count was 64.

“Sadly, many of these lives could have been saved if the Trump Administration had fully marshalled the resources of the federal government, but sadly, that never happened.

“In fact, just last week, Donald Trump shamefully tweeted comments calling into question the death toll in Puerto Rico and belittling the suffering that occurred there.

“That is unacceptable. When disaster strikes the President has a solemn responsibility to be the President for all Americans – whether they live in Texas, Florida, or the territories like Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Puerto Ricans are American citizens. They serve in our military. They shed blood in our wars. They have died for our freedoms. And, yet, in Puerto Rico’s darkest hour, this Administration failed them.

“That is wrong and the Administration must be held accountable. So far, Congressional Republicans have failed to live up to their constitutional responsibility of exercising oversight regarding the failures of the disaster response. Instead they are bending over backwards to protect the White House.

“We need answers. That is why I have authored legislation creating a 9/11 style Commission to investigate the response to Maria. I have also introduced ‘The COUNT Act’, which will establish federal procedures for death tolls after disasters strike.

“A year after Maria, the American people deserve to know what happened to their fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. And, as the hard road of recovery begins for the communities devastated by Hurricane Florence, we can only pray this Administration has learned from their mistakes. We can never let what happened after Maria happen again.

“Thank you for watching. To all those in Florence’s path – be safe. Please know we are praying for you and committed to helping you recover. God bless you.”

* * *

Nydia Velázquez Pronunció el Discurso Semanal Demócrata

“Hola. Soy la congresista Nydia Velázquez y represento el séptimo distrito congresional de Nueva York.

“Mientras nuestros hermanos Americanos en las Carolinas enfrentan la devastación del huracán Florence, nos recordamos que esta semana se cumple un año desde que María tocó tierra en Puerto Rico, y cuando Irma y María devastaron a las Islas Vírgenes.

“En Puerto Rico, el huracán María tocó tierra en mi pueblo natal, Yabucoa, como un huracán de Categoría 4. Los vientos sostenidos, que excedieron las 150 millas por hora, devastaron puentes, carreteras y destruyeron más de 87 mil viviendas; otras 385 mil sufrieron daños graves. Se espera que los daños físicos excedan los $90 mil millones.

“En toda la isla -es decir, todos los 3,4 millones de ciudadanos estadounidenses – perdieron energía eléctrica. Miles de empresas y hogares no recuperarían electricidad durante nueve meses, lo cual marcó el apagón más prolongado de la historia de los Estados Unidos.

“Es muy proable que nunca sabremos el número exacto de puertorriqueños que perdieron la vida a causa del huracán María. A principios de este mes, el Gobierno de Puerto Rico finalmente reconoció que a causa del huracán Maria, fallecieron casi 3 mil puertorriqueños, después de insistir, por meses, que el índice de mortalidad oficial era de 64.

“Lamentablemente, muchas de estas vidas se hubiesen salvado si la Administración Trump hubiese reunido todos los recursos del gobierno federal. Pero desgraciadamente, eso nunca sucedió.

“De hecho, la semana pasada, Donald Trump twitteó comentarios dudando el saldo de muertos en Puerto Rico y menospreciaba el sufrimiento del pueblo puertorriqueño.

“Eso es inaceptable. Cuando ocurre un desastre, el presidente tiene la solemne responsabilidad de ser el presidente de todos los Americanos, sin importar que vivan en Texas, Florida o en los territorios, como Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes.

“Los puertorriqueños son ciudadanos estadounidenses. Ellos son parte de nuestas fuerzas armadas. Han derramado sangre en nuestras guerras. Han muerto por nuestras libertades. Y, sin embargo, en la hora más oscura de Puerto Rico, esta administración les falló.

“La administración debe rendir cuentas. Hasta el momento, los republicanos del Congreso no han cumplido con su responsabilidad constitucional de ejercer supervisión sobre los fallos de la respuesta federal al desastre. En vez, hacen lo imposible para proteger a la Casa Blanca.

“Necesitamos respuestas. Es por eso que diseñé legislación que crea una Comisión al estilo del 9-11 para investigar la respuesta federal al huracán María. También introduje la “COUNT Act”, que establecería procedimientos federales para proporcionar supervisión sobre las tasas de mortalidad después de los desastres naturales.

“Un año después del huracán María, el pueblo estadounidense merece saber qué pasó con sus hermanos en Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes. Y, a medida que atravesamos el duro camino a la recuperación para las comunidades devastadas por el huracán Florence, solo podemos rezar, esperando que esta Administración haya aprendido de sus errores. Nunca podemos permitir que se repita de nuevo lo que sucedió después del huracán María.

“Para todos aquellos afectados por el huracán Florence, estamos orando por ustedes y comprometidos a ayudarlos a recuperarse. Dios los bendiga.”

Any bolding has been added.

~

Congress is in recess and there was no House Democratic Party leader news conference on Thursday.

From Nancy Pelosi’s newsroom:

As Internal Poll Shows GOP Losing Tax Scam Messaging War, House GOP Prepares to Double Down

For nearly a year, the GOP has been trying to sell their tax scam for the rich as a ‘middle class miracle’… but clearly the American people are NOT buying it.

Bloomberg: Internal GOP Poll: ‘We’ve Lost the Messaging Battle’ on Tax Cuts

A survey commissioned by the Republican National Committee has led the party to a glum conclusion regarding President Donald Trump’s signature legislative achievement: Voters overwhelmingly believe his tax overhaul helps the wealthy instead of average Americans.

By a 2-to-1 margin — 61 percent to 30 percent — respondents said the law benefits “large corporations and rich Americans” over “middle class families,” according to the survey, which was completed on Sept. 2 by the GOP firm Public Opinion Strategies and obtained by Bloomberg News.

The RNC study says Americans worry the tax law will lead to cuts in Social Security and Medicare, concluding that “most voters believe that the GOP wants to cut back on these programs in order to provide tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.” It attributes that finding to “a fairly disciplined Democrat attack against the recent tax cuts.”

The Hill: Internal poll shows tax law backfiring for GOP

A poll commissioned by the Republican National Committee found that President Trump’s tax law is backfiring for the GOP, with most voters saying it benefits corporations and wealthy individuals more than the middle class.

Republicans hoped that the tax cuts would benefit them in the elections, but the report on the survey says that the GOP has “lost the messaging battle on the issue.”

The tax law is Republicans’ biggest legislative accomplishment since President Trump took office, and was unpopular at the time it passed. Republicans said at the time that they thought voters would view the law more favorably as they started to see greater take-home pay, but the measure has never become overwhelmingly popular.

So what are House Republicans doing with this information? Ignoring it. Instead of listening to the American people, House GOP will return to Washington next week to double down on their failing tax message and push for a vote on the GOP tax scam for the rich 2.0 – which hands billions of dollars in permanent tax breaks to the wealthiest few and adds trillions more to the deficit in the coming years.

With every passing day, the GOP priority becomes more clear: to sell out Medicare, Medicaid and the middle class to further enrich big corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent. Meanwhile, Democrats are fighting for real, bipartisan tax reform that creates jobs, reduces the deficit and is For The People.

~

The GOP Agenda: Slash Medicare, Medicaid & Social Security

With the daily mayhem of the GOP White House and Congress, you may have missed that on Monday, another top Republican official blurted out the truth of the GOP plan to slash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security if they control Congress next year.

Reuters: Trump adviser eyes entitlement cuts to plug U.S. budget gaps

A top economic adviser to President Donald Trump said on Monday he expects U.S. budget deficits of about 4 percent to 5 percent of the country’s economic output for the next one to two years, adding that there would likely be an effort in 2019 to cut spending on entitlement programs.

“We have to be tougher on spending,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said in remarks to the Economic Club of New York, adding that government spending was the reason for the wider budget deficits, not the Republican-led tax cuts activated this year.

Washington Post: Republicans want to run on Medicare. Democrats say bring it on.

Every other day, a leading House Republican or a member of the Trump administration says that “entitlement reform” is on the agenda if the party holds Congress — “probably next year,” said Larry Kudlow on Monday morning.

MSNBC: Top White House official eyes entitlement cuts ‘next year’

Not to put too fine a point on this, but we keep watching key GOP officials admit that they want to cut programs like Medicare and Social Security. Maybe the public should believe them.

From President Trump’s hand-picked Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow to Vice President Mike Pence to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republicans have made their goal obviously clear: add trillions to the deficit with the GOP tax scam for the rich, and then slash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security families and seniors rely on.

Under the twisted GOP agenda, we can afford to give multi-billion dollar tax breaks to Big Pharma, but seniors struggling to make ends meet need to pay more for their health care. That is why Democrats are fighting For The People: lower health costs and prescription drug prices, raise worker’s wages, and clean up corruption to make Washington work for the American people.

~

  4 comments for “Fighting Back: “We can never let what happened after Maria happen again.”

  1. JanF
    September 22, 2018 at 4:45 am

    Nancy Pelosi: Statement on One Year Since Hurricane Maria

    San Francisco – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement marking one year since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands:

    “A full year after Hurricane Maria wreaked unprecedented devastation and suffering in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, our fellow Americans are still struggling to heal, rebuild and recover.

    It is unconscionable and unacceptable that President Trump continues to show a stunningly callous and cruel attitude toward the survivors and victims, refusing to even acknowledge the staggering level of heartbreak, devastation and death caused by these hurricanes and his Administration’s inadequate response. Instead of holding this President accountable, Speaker Ryan and the House GOP have shrugged away their responsibilities to avert or investigate this failed response. The President and Republican Congress should remember their moral and constitutional responsibility to protect the American people, provide every resource needed to recover and prevent this inadequate response from ever happening again.

    “The heartbreak that has followed in the wake of Hurricane Florence should serve as a clarion wake-up call for Congress to act swiftly and prayerfully to ensure that every family affected by hurricanes has the support and resources they need now and throughout the long road to recovery. We have a moral obligation to do better – not only to finish the job in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but to prevent the same type of inadequate response from happening ever again.

  2. Denise Velez
    September 22, 2018 at 5:25 am

    Thank you Jan!

  3. September 24, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    Thanks for this, Jan! I am very glad that Congresswoman Velázquez has put together a Commission to investigate what happened in Puerto Rico.When the Dems retake the government, we can begin to get cracking on it.

    Re slashing Social, Medicare, and so on—don’t Rethugs have grandmothers? Don’t they have parents who rely on these programs? Or all they all so stinking rich they don’t need them? I know if these programs are cut my husband and I will have to move in with our younger son. All our Social goes to the monthly payment we have here.

    • JanF
      September 25, 2018 at 5:08 am

      Republicans have parents and grandparents but they are all wealthy and don’t rely on those programs (they will take them, however!). In the 2012 election, Paul Ryan trotted out his mother (who lived in Florida) to endorse her granny-killing son. I suspect that she also does not know any seniors who are living from Social Security check to Social Security check and who would be devastated by cuts in health care coverage that would have to be paid out of their own pockets. The problem with Republicans is that they have no empathy – they can’t imagine themselves as someone who had bad luck or who was unable to accumulate wealth for old age and illness. Those sorts of people have no business being in government – they should become bankers.

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