Congresswoman Norma Torres

Representing the 35th District of California
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Rep. Torres leads all Natural Resources Committee Dems to ask for an Oversight Hearing on the Trump Administration’s Puerto Rico & USVI Relief Efforts

September 29, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member Norma Torres of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native affairs released a letter to Chairman Bishop, led by Torres and signed by all nineteen Democrats on the Natural Resources Committee, requesting an oversight hearing on the Trump administration’s efforts to address the growing crisis in Puerto Rico.  The letter outlines the urgent need to help ensure our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) are receiving urgent hurricane recovery and relief support.


In addition to all Natural Resources Committee Democrats, the letter was also signed by Representative Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY). "I'm proud to be leading this effort to request an oversight hearing on the response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.” said Rep. Torres. “I remain steadfast in support of efforts to speed up delivery of the resources and supplies that Puerto Rico needs after this devastating storm. Making sure that the relief and rebuilding effort are moving forward is a first step towards a successful recovery for the Island, its people and its economy. Once we have addressed the immediate devastation on the island and the safety of the three million Americans, we must be vigilant in our oversight to prevent the waste and abuse of precious resources.  The rebuilding of Puerto Rico will take years, not months, and we must recognize that storms of this magnitude will only become more common – requiring that this rebuilding effort prepare Puerto Rico for future category-five storms."


The letter highlights that it’s been more than a week since Hurricane Maria hit the islands of Puerto Rico and USVI and many people have been left without electricity, food and clean water supplies, and have limited cell phone service. According to recent reports, nearly half of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents still don’t have access to clean drinking water. The Ranking Members believe this humanitarian crisis affecting millions of U.S. citizens should be prioritized above all other Committee business and elevated to a top priority:


“… [T]he Natural Resources committee has broad jurisdiction over all matters regarding the insular areas of the United States, our members are often looked to for answers regarding the federal government’s efforts to assist the people of the Virgin Island and Puerto Rico in securing the help they need in this time of crisis. Accordingly, it is appropriate that we exercise our authority in this regard, to hear from officials of the Trump administration, in a hearing, on the sufficiency of their efforts to respond to the crises in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.”


As the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs Rep. Torres has been highly engaged on matters of importance to insular areas and territories such as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Rep. Torres has served a constructive leadership role on the Subcommittee as Congress has sought to assist Puerto Rico in addressing its economic crisis.


The full letter is available at: