USVI Rep. calling out Congress for their share of blame for extent of hurricane damage

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- “Today’s the day the United States Congress, the White House and everyday citizens must make a sustained commitment to the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico," Representative Stacey Plaskett from the US Virgin Islands said Thursday.

Plaskett (D-USVI At Large) is standing up for the Virgin Islands on the steps of Capitol Hill. She said efforts to help her territory and Puerto Rico are just not enough.

“This would be unacceptable anywhere else," Plaskett added.

She testified in a committee hearing on the takeaways from the hurricane season.

“The people of the Virgin Islands have lost their homes, possessions, businesses have lost along with hospitals, utilities and vital infrastructure," Plaskett said inside the hearing.

Plaskett said the most recent disaster relief bill passed by Congress did not include economic development programs and additional support for repair of water infrastructure, seaports, airports and roadways.

It’s a message resonating with Republican members in the hearing.

“The economies got to grow. If that economy doesn’t grow in both those places it’s going to be future heartache and devastation," Rep. John Faso (R-NY-19) said.

Puerto Rico Congresswoman Jennifer Gonzalez echoed that. She asked that that tax reform proposals released Thursday incorporate relief for businesses on the islands.

Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, United States Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection agency gave their own account of their response and recovery efforts.

“We remain ready and poised to serve in any future events as they may occur," Major General Donald E. Jackson Jr. of the United States Army Corps of Engineers said.

Plaskett ended her testimony by calling out Congress and the committee. She believed they share some of the responsibility for the extent of this damage. She said hospitals have been chronically underfunded for decades and schools have been denied funding by Congress to support maintenance levels.

Plaskett said fellow members of Congress still have the chance to deliver on the promises they made to the islands.

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