For Immediate Release
SAN JUAN, PR / WASHINGTON, DC – A delegation of senators from the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) met with the President of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL), Senator Carmelo Ríos (PR) yesterday in Puerto Rico to discuss several issues related to the post-hurricane disaster relief and recovery efforts, as well as other initiatives that could benefit both island jurisdictions. Ríos, who is also the Puerto Rico Senate Majority Leader, welcomed USVI Senators Alicia Chucky Hansen and NHCSL member Janette Millin Young in his office in San Juan.
“It is always a pleasure to meet with my counterparts in state senates across the country, especially our neighbors in the USVI. Senators Chucky Hansen and Millin Young have been steadfast advocates for their jurisdiction and we at NHCSL want to continue working together to ensure that the federal response to Hurricanes Irma and María are commensurate with the destruction wrought by both storms. We also discussed other areas where we can collaborate to advance economic development solutions with the Administration and Congress,” NHCSL President Sen. Carmelo Ríos (PR) said.
The meeting also came on the heels of a historic announcement by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which awarded an unprecedented $18.5 billion in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to Puerto Rico and $1.6 billion to the USVI. In the case of Puerto Rico, the new federal funding will be used primarily for rebuilding the electricity grid and other reconstruction projects. In its last emergency supplemental appropriations bill for hurricane relief, Congress mandated that a minimum of $11 billion be awarded to Puerto Rico and left the rest of the funding allocation decisions to the discretion of HUD.
“I am also thrilled with the major announcement made by HUD yesterday to award an unprecedented $20.1 billion to both Puerto Rico and the USVI. As we soon approach this year’s hurricane season, these funds will be crucial so that the reconstruction and mitigation projects that are undertaken are sufficiently resilient to withstand the hurricanes that we can already expect in the near future. The Administration has always worked with NHCSL and responded with the diligence that this emergency deserves, so we look forward to continue working with them and other allies to focus on medium and long-term issues and, more broadly, on a Marshall Plan,” Ríos added.
Last October, barely a few weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Sens. Ríos, Millin Young, then NHCSL President Rep. Ángel Cruz (PA), and former NHCSL President Sen. Eduardo Bhatia, went to Washington, DC and held various high-level meetings with FEMA officials, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and other senior Congressional and administration officials.
Sen. Millin Young, said: “I want to thank Senator Ríos for hosting us yesterday and for his tireless efforts to ensure that the USVI has a seat at the table as NHCSL advocates for disaster relief for all affected jurisdictions that continue suffering 7 months after the hurricanes destroyed so many of our communities. We look forward to continue working together to knock on every door possible – in Washington and elsewhere – so that every family that suffered due to the storms can return to a sense of normalcy and that our islands can get back on the path to economic growth.”
From left to right: Sens. Carmelo Ríos (PR), Alicia Chucky Hansen (USVI), & Janette Millin Young (USVI).
NHCSL is the premier national association of Hispanic state legislators working to design and implement policies and procedures that will improve the quality of life for Hispanics throughout the country. NHCSL was founded in 1989 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)3 with the mission to be the most effective voice for the more than 400 Hispanic legislators. For more information visit www.nhcsl.org.