by Pat Loeb and Andrew Kramer
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia and state leaders are weighing in on the crisis in Puerto Rico.
Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution urging immediate assistance to Puerto Rico at its meeting on Thursday.
A former council member made a rare visit to underscore the point.
“The situation in Puerto Rico is dire,” said Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez.
Sanchez introduced the resolution and every member of council co-sponsored it. It includes a recitation of the catastrophes Hurricane Maria brought, including the loss of most power and communications, the deaths of at least sixteen, and the thousands left homeless, to make the case the island cannot wait for aid and that the Jones Act, which has restricted assistance, must be lifted for more than ten days.
Though no longer a member, Councilman Angel Ortiz spoke during public testimony.
“Ten days waiver of the Jones Act is laughingly stupid. Puerto Rico is being treated with contempt by the federal government,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz also called for debt forgiveness as part of the aid.
Later, Mayor Jim Kenney and about a dozen other local and state officials spoke out during a press conference.
“Philadelphia has a very special connection to Puerto Rico,” said Kenney. “To call on the federal government and the Trump administration to continue to step up to the plate and send the American citizens in Puerto Rico the aid they desperately need,” Kenney said.
They say they are pleased with the President’s recent response, but Congressman Bob Brady believes even more needs to be done.
“There are people dying over there and that should stop right now,” Brady said. “We are the richest country in the world, we help other countries, we can help our own. Puerto Rico are American citizens and we need the let them know we are there to help them.”
He says as supplies are being shipped to Puerto Rico, we should be sending people as well.