Puerto Rico Should Be a Priority

Photo courtesy of AFP

A week after being hit by Hurricane Maria residents of Puerto Rico remain almost completely without electricity and less than half can make use of running water. Aid has been slow to arrive and these U.S. residents are seeing little action from a Federal government that has shown little attention and made little effort to expedite aid to it very own citizens.

“Not only will passing this legislation keep a promise we made, but all the work is for the same goal: ending suffering and helping people live,”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said at a press conference. This statement was made about the House’s plan to pass a 20-week abortion ban, not, as you may have thought about taking care of the people of Puerto Rico still suffering from the impact of Hurricane Maria.

Never has it been more clear that the Republicans have skewed priorities. Rather than focusing on helping an entire U.S. territory on the brink of a dire humanitarian crisis, they are intent on more tax cuts for the 1% and looking to regulate women’s bodies and a class of abortion that no woman plans to have that make up less than 1% of all performed in the United States and stands no chance of passing in the Senate.

An island of 3.4 million Americans has no electricity, dwindling food supplies and they are at serious risk for disease outbreaks. People have already been dying in San Juan hospitals due to lack of diesel for generators and most of the island is completely cut off from communication and supplies. These are our fellow American citizens and Congress needs to act now to authorize emergency relief.

Where is Rep. Patrick Meehan? Has he been fully derailed by anti-choice policy making and crafting a tax scheme to help the top 1% of Americans so he cannot see the devastation unfolding to our south? Is he incapable of displaying humanity in the face of such need? Is he capable of breaking free of his party leadership and speaking out for what is right?

Until the GOP starts valuing all American lives currently on our soil, they have no moral grounds for calling themselves “pro-life.” Life continues past birth and is not described by the color of skin nor language spoken.

We must replace these callous members of Congress with compassionate representatives that will take care of the American people! We must call our representatives to emphasize our care for Puerto Rican Americans and demand they act now to give relief!

Puerto Rican aid is currently stunted by the Jones Act (Merchant Marine Act of 1920), which requires that any goods shipped to U.S. territories by sea must be done so on ships that are U.S. owned and operated. The Act prevents emergency transport of aid to Puerto Ricans from other countries. Pat Meehan needs to stand up and immediately provide leadership calling for an immediate Executive waiver if not a complete suspension of the Jones Act so aid can freely flow to Puerto Rico. Until the Republicans do so they cannot dare to call himself either pro-life or supporters of free-trade.