WASHINGTON — Senator Elizabeth Warren is leading most of Massachusetts’ congressional delegation on a trip to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, where the group will tour a children’s hospital and shelter Friday.
In a joint statement, the lawmakers said Massachusetts is the “proud home” of 300,000 Puerto Ricans, with thousands more journeying to the state after Hurricane Maria hit.
“We’re going to Puerto Rico to see firsthand the devastation on the island and how we can help our fellow citizens along the path to a full recovery. We have not forgotten our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico – they can count on us,” read the statement from Senators Warren and Ed Markey, along with Representatives Richard Neal, Jim McGovern, Michael Capuano, Niki Tsongas, Katherine Clark, and Seth Moulton.
Nearly four months after Hurricane Maria blew through the island, 40 percent of the 3.4 million islanders still lack electricity. Puerto Ricans are US citizens.
Warren was scheduled to visit the island in December, but the trip was canceled, according to her spokeswoman. She invited the delegation to join her for the rescheduled visit.
The lawmakers will visit Hospital de Niño in San Juan, before receiving a briefing from federal disaster and homeland security officials at the Joint Field Office in Guaynabo on relief efforts. They’re also touring a health center in Loiza and a shelter in Canóvanas, before flying back to Washington Friday evening.
Warren has made Puerto Rico one of her signature issues over the past few months, holding a rally on Capitol Hill in October pushing for debt relief for Puerto Rico, and bashing the Trump administration’s response to the crisis. Warren and Markey also signed onto a $146 billion relief plan for the island, though it has little chance of passing.
The president visited the island briefly in October, touring damaged areas and throwing paper towels into a crowd of hurricane victims at a relief center. He tweeted later that the island’s infrastructure had been a “disaster” before the storm and that federal relief workers would not be able to help “forever.”Liz Goodwin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @lizcgoodwin