Ahead of Tuesday’s Puerto Rico Hearing, Grijalva Asks GOP to Seriously Address Human Suffering Before Pushing Deregulation

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of Tuesday’s hearing on the reconstruction of Puerto Rico and the response to Hurricane Maria, Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) urged Republicans in Washington to make reducing human suffering on the island their first priority rather than large-scale deregulation schemes and sweeping privatization efforts.

“The people of Puerto Rico have been asking for more than a month now why the lights are still off and the water is too dirty to drink,” Grijalva said today. “Instead of addressing those fundamental questions, Republicans have made the recovery all about their pet issue of waiving environmental laws. They’re pushing their political agenda full steam ahead even before communities have basic services up and running. The focus for the near term needs to be squarely on humanitarian assistance and restoring power to suffering communities, not on deregulatory schemes or ideological demands. The people of Puerto Rico have noticed the successful recoveries in Florida and Houston, and they know who’s failed them so far.”

More than six weeks after the hurricane, less than 40 percent of the customers of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) currently have power restored. Investigating suspicious reconstruction contracts like the infamous Whitefish agreement is important, Grijalva said, but the basic need to restore power must be front and center at tomorrow’s hearing – not Republican demands for sweeping deregulation or handing over control of the island’s economy to third parties.

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