Rep. Nydia Velázquez Urges White House For More Help In Puerto Rico

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However, he soon learned the extent of damage in Puerto Rico made the situation extremely volatile, temporarily complicating Southern Baptists' ability to get to the island and work there. Nydia Velazquez of New York, Luis Gutierrez of IL and Jose Serrano of New York. McCain said that the emergency waivers are valuable in speeding up recovery efforts.

Monday night, Trump said in a series of tweets that Puerto Rico was "in deep trouble" but didn't offer specifics about federal aid efforts. "But we have a lot of shippers and. a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don't want the Jones Act lifted, and we have a lot of ships out there right now".

"And they all support at least a temporary waiver of the Jones Act so that not only from USA maritime ships but from anybody that can bring help", he said.

Officials say they are facing numerous logistical challenges, including damage to airports and ports.

"Based on consultation with other Federal agencies, DHS's current assessment is that there is sufficient numbers of USA -flagged vessels to move commodities to Puerto Rico", spokesman David Lapan wrote in an email.

President Trump, however, seemed to offer a different reason that there had been no waiver.

"Well, we're thinking about that", he responded.

Jones Act waivers "would take American first responders out of the loop and replace them with Filipino or Russian or Chinese crews", he said.

"Puerto Rico's a very hard situation".

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"In terms of the Jones Act waiver, we have researched this - I read it in the news clips this morning - we have no known Jones Act waiver requests".

"I'm no Trump fan, but at this point I don't have anything negative to say about what we've seen so far", said Soto-Class, whose think tank plans to lobby Congress so Puerto Rico gets the maximum funds available to rebuild after Maria.

Soto says the United States initially sent in 3,200 members of FEMA and the National Guard.

Soto mentioned that as early as next week, the House will have a supplemental, bipartisan package to help out Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Gregory Moore, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, an office of Homeland Security, said in a statement that an assessment by the agency showed there was "sufficient capacity" of USA -flagged vessels to move commodities to Puerto Rico.

Soto also said he is talking with Florida lawmakers about making sure the state is ready with food, schools, hospitals and shelters for people coming from Puerto Rico.

"We are considering the underlying issues and are evaluating whether a waiver should be issued", said a senior Homeland Security official, who spoke to reporters on the grounds of anonymity. There are two ways for a request to be made: either the Secretary of Defense has to make a request to waive it or if a request comes from other federal agencies, DHS has to consult with the Maritime Administration on the availability of qualified shipping vessels.

The Jones Act was waived after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to facilitate the movement of petroleum along the East Coast, and to make up for the loss of high capacity pipelines, Moore said.

"It's quite clear that for the White House, a public relations issue in the National Football League takes far more precedence than a disaster in Puerto Rico", he said.