Nearly a year after hurricanes hit Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, more than a dozen Democrats visited the areas this week to see first hand their efforts to recover from the storms.
U.S. Representative Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, joined fifteen fellow housemates for the three-day voyage to shed light on the struggles of the decade after the storm on Puerto Rico and the indigenous peoples of the indigenous islands.
The delegation, led by Democratic Party leader Nancy Pelosi, met with Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello, representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local people, to take further steps to help Americans recover from the storms.
̵1; Jim McGovern (@RepMcGovern) July 27, 2018
Legislators arrived in Puerto Rico on Thursday and are expected to stop in the US Virgin Islands the previous Saturday make returns to their respective constituencies.
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McGovern, a Worcester Democrat who has criticized the Trump government's response to hurricanes, said The visit of the delegation had a role to play in making sure that Congress did not lose focus on the territories.
"I continue to believe that what happens here and what continues to exist here should be in the minds of everyone in Washington," he said during a telephone interview. "We need to get better here, we try to get some ideas … and I think we have some good ideas to go back to and try to do."
The congressman, for example, said he would like lawmakers to consider solar energy as a potential solution to power grid problems in Puerto Rico.
McGovern added that he would like to see Congress treat residents of areas more like those in the US states – especially when it comes to health care and tax breaks.
"I think I learned here that some of the problems that occurred after the hurricanes have existed here before," he said. "And the mainland and Washington had a lot to do with a whole host of disruptions, and we need to get away from this colonial mentality and empower people on the island to shape a better future."
McGovern was the only lawmaker in Massachusetts to join the weekend trip, which was his second to Puerto Rico after last year's hurricanes.
The Democrat said he wants to meet with members of the Worcester region on Sunday to discuss his visit to the areas.
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The congressman previously joined several other members of the Massachusetts delegation to visit the island in January to investigate damage Take a look at recovery efforts.
Pelosi stated at the announcement of this week's visit that Democrats planned to "listen, learn and shed light on this crisis".
"The suffering of our fellow Americans on the islands in the following months The hurricanes were a challenge to the conscience of our nation," she said in a statement. "We have to do better to prevent the loss of life, accelerate the recovery and prepare for the next storm."
To McGovern and Pelosi for the trip: US Representative Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois; Nydia Velazquez, D-New York; Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas; Gregory Meeks, D-New York; Betty McCollum, D-Minnesota; Terri Sewell, D-Alabama; Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-New Mexico; Raul Ruiz, D-California; Robin Kelly, D-Illinois; Stacey Plaskett, D-Virgin Islands; Dwight Evans, D-Pennsylvania; Val Demings, D-Florida; Adriano Espaillat, D-New York.