Soto Recovery Efforts for Puerto Rico & USVI

September 29, 2017
In The News

Visit to Puerto Rico

On October 1, 2017 Rep. Soto visited Puerto Rico to assess firsthand the damaged caused on the island. Read the full report by Rep. Soto on Federal Response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

Click here for the album of pictures taken by Rep. Soto on his visit to Puerto Rico. 

Legislation Introduced

  • Rep. Soto co-introduced the Humanitarian Disaster Relief Act of 2017, along with U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL), and José Serrano (D-NY),  which would permit waiving the Jones Act for humanitarian relief efforts.
  • Introduced H.R. 3829, The Uniform Federal Grants for Resilient Infrastructure and Design (TUFGRID) Act of 2017, legislation that will help make our nation’s electric infrastructure more resilient to natural disasters.

Rep. Soto joined Rep. Espaillat’s amendments to the budget resolution:

  •  An amendment that would encourage GAO to issue a report on the impacts of climate change and recommendations for establishing an emergency preparedness plan for natural disasters in the Caribbean.

  • An amendment that encourages Congress to form a Task Force responsible for addressing the disaster relief aid needed to mitigate the impact of those affected by natural disasters, including Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Barbuda, the island of Dominica, and the Dominican Republic.

  • An amendment that supports waiving the Jones Act for at least a year, or until Puerto Rico receives the relief it needs, so that response and rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico are not encumbered. 

Letters Sent to Federal Agencies 




Rep. Soto led three bipartisan letters to President Trump, Acting Secretary Duke, and Attorney General Sessions, requesting increased federal aid to assist PR and USVI post Hurricanes Irma and Maria—bring food, water, resources, increase search and rescue, and looting prevention.


Rep. Serrano led a letter requesting that President Trump establish a task force to provide support and coordination to hurricane disaster areas.


Rep. Velazquez led a letter requesting a waiver of the Jones Act, and a waiver of the federal matching requirements.


Rep. Soto led a letter to letter to Attorney General Sessions urging additional oversight of airlines to prevent price gouging for those wanting to leave the Caribbean.


Rep. Soto led a letter to Secretary Chao of the U.S. Department of Transportation to request repairs to Puerto Rico’s Airport Transmission Tower so that the airport can increase its capacity to operate.


Rep. Gallego led a letter to Secretary Mattis to use DOD resources to assist in disaster relief efforts.


Rep. Barbara Lee led a letter to house leadership requesting additional emergency supplemental funding for Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria also include all of our affected Caribbean neighbors.


Rep. Velazquez led a letter to President Trump urging him to mobilize the DOD to deploy additional assets to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.


Rep. Cardenas led a CHC letter to DHS and OPM to inform and provide CHC members on a plan to include Hispanics and Latinos, particularly Puerto Ricans, in efforts to provide relief.


Rep. Crowley and Rep. Linda Sanchez led a Dem Caucus letter to DHS Acting Secretary Duke and Chief of Staff Kelly requesting a brief with House Democratic Caucus.


Rep. Serrano led two letters. The first urging President Trump immediately deploy all available federal assets and relevant federal agencies to Puerto Rico for the express purpose of reestablishing telecommunications services. The second to HHS to get more medicine from stockpile. The third letter to HHS on mosquito abatement to avoid a public health issue. The fourth letter was an appropriation letter about providing disaster loans aside from FEMA loans.


Rep. Linda Sanchez led a letter to State Secretary and DOD Secretary Mattis urging them to waive Evacuee Manifest and Promissory Note for American citizens fleeing Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and other Caribbean countries impacted by the recent Hurricanes.


Rep. Torres led a letter to Natural Resources Chairman Bishop urging him to Natural Resources Committee hold an oversight hearing on the response to hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.


Rep. Gonzalez-Colon Letter to President Trump Requesting 100 Percent Cost-Sharing for repairs and rebuilding.


Rep. Cummings and Rep. Plaskett sent a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Gowdy, expressing their extremely grave concerns about the dire status of recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and requesting that the Committee hold an “emergency hearing” next week with officials from the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services, as well as from the White House.


Rep. Soto led two letters to USDA Secretary Purdue and USDA Forest Service Chief Tooke requesting additional chainsaw teams to clear debris.

Raising Awareness

Remarks on the House Floor asking President Trump and Speaker Ryan to take immediate action on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands: Click here

Interview with Ali Versh and Stephanie Ruhl on MSNBN: Click here

Interview with SE CUPP on HLN: Click here