On September 20th, the island of 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 shortly thereafter.
Although the Administration's response to this crisis has improved—slowly—Puerto Rico will need legislation to wipe clean its predatory debt and to repeal the Jones Act, which increases the cost of all the goods Puerto Rico imports (which is pretty much everything).
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 their island and restructuring their relationship, to ensure fair representation and justice for the people who live there.
WHO TO CALL:
Senators Cassidy and Kennedy
Senator Bill Cassidy - DC OFFICE: (202) 224-5824 and METAIRIE OFFICE: (504) 838-0130 (NOTE: If you can't get through to Metairie, try one of the other offices, such as Monroe: (318) 324-2111, Baton Rouge: (225) 929-7711; Lafayette: (337) 261-1400; Shreveport: (318) 798-3215; Lake Charles: (337) 493-5398, or Alexandria: Phone: (318) 448-7176)
Senator John Kennedy: DC OFFICE: (202) 224-4623 and NEW ORLEANS OFFICE (504) 581-6190 (Other offices include: Lafayette: (337) 269-5980; Monroe: (318) 361-1489; Alexandria: (318) 445-2892; Baton Rouge: (225) 926-8033; and 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 because I am concerned about my fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. As Louisianans, we know how hard it is to rebuild after a hurricane. I'm asking the Senator to take these three 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 be able to rebuild their entire island while also servicing their debt of more than $70 billion.
- Cosponsor and support a bill introduced by Senators McCain and Lee 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.