On September 20th, Puerto Rico (a U.S. commonwealth) was devastated by Hurricane Maria. The island was left without power, drinkable water and cell phone service. Food, water, and medicine shortages developed soon after, and still have yet to abate. Ninety percent of the island is still without power – and that number has actually INCREASED in recent days.
Puerto Rico needs our help, and Congress has the power to help. Legislation is needed to wipe clean the island's predatory debt and to permanently repeal the Jones Act, which increases the cost of all goods Puerto Rico imports (which is pretty much everything). The temporary 10-day waiver has already expired.
Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, but they cannot vote in U.S. elections. Their Congressional representative has no vote either. This has led to what Fortune Magazine describes as a "flawed relationship in which the U.S. prioritizes Puerto Rico's credit obligations – held primarily by vulture funds from the U.S. – over its inhabitants' quality of life."
The U.S. owes Puerto Rico a serious attempt at both rebuilding the island and restructuring our relationship, to ensure fair representation and justice for the people who live there.
WHO TO CALL:
Senators Kennedy and Cassidy
Senator Bill Cassidy: DC Office: 202-224-582; Metairie office: 504-838-0130; Monroe: 318-324-2111; Lake Charles: 337-493-5398; Alexandria: 318-448-7176
Senator John Kennedy: DC office: 202-224-4623; New Orleans: 504-581-6190; Lafayette: (337) 269-5980; Monroe: (318) 361-1489; Alexandria: (318) 445-2892; Baton Rouge: (225) 926-8033; Shreveport: (318) 670-5192
Reminders: Identify where you're calling from (town and zip code is fine) so they know you're an actual constituent. Be concise – the office will get through more calls that way. Be polite and don't argue with the staffer – they don't set policy. If you get a voicemail, then leave a message. And if you get a busy signal – call back later!
Hi, my name is [Your Name] from New Orleans, zip code 70118 [or wherever you're from].
I'm calling today because I'm concerned about my fellow American citizens in Puerto Rico. As Louisianans, we know how hard it is to rebuild after a hurricane. So I'm asking the Senator to take these actions:
- Demand FEMA adequately provide Puerto Ricans with the resources they need.
- Work to restructure or even forgive Puerto Rico's debt. It's unreasonable to expect them to rebuild their island while also servicing a debt of more than $70 billion.
- Cosponsor and support a bill introduced by Senators Lee and McCain to permanently waive the Jones Act for Puerto Rico.
Thank you for your time and your hard work answering the phones. Stay safe out there.
This call is courtesy of Metairie Indivisible.