- George Bennett Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson — who made joint appearances in Belle Glade and other Florida areas pounded by Hurricane Irma — are now teaming up to urge President Donald Trump to approve additional Hurricane Maria assistance to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
“This is a life threatening situation, as a great majority are unable to contact law enforcement or their loved ones,” says a letter to the president co-signed by Rubio and Nelson this week.
“We urge you to leverage all available resources to assist those affected by this natural disaster. The Department of Defense, in particular, has performed valiantly in response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Our brave men and women in uniform are well equipped, trained, and tempered to handle the dire situation in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” the Rubio-Nelson letter says.
Trump, who visited Texas after Hurricane Harvey and stopped in Southwest Florida after Hurricane Irma, plans to visit Puerto Rico next Tuesday.
Rubio visited Puerto Rico on Monday.
“What I saw is over three and half million American citizens potentially on the verge of a serious and growing humanitarian crisis,” Rubio told his colleagues in a Tuesday speech on the Senate floor.
Rubio is sending four of his staffers to Puerto Rico to help federal and local officials with recovery efforts.
“We cannot afford to sit idly by while over three million Americans on the island endure unimaginable hardship,” Rubio said. “My office and I will do everything in our power to help Puerto Rico receive the assistance they need.”
Nelson, in his own remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday, said Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands deserve the same post-hurricane attention that Texas and Florida received.
“Now what we need to do is to take that same effort that we saw in Texas and we’ve seen in Florida of people helping people and we have got to help the people of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico,” Nelson said.