A group of House Democrats on Monday sent letters to the White House, FEMA, and the Department of Health and Human Services demanding documents related to the Trump administration's "abominable" hurricane response in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
"Republicans actively blocked all Democratic requests over the past two years while President Trump heaped scorn on the very people who lost thousands of their loved ones."
—House Democrats, letter
The letter (pdf) to the White House—led by House Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.)—accuses Republicans of stonewalling Democratic requests for Puerto Rico records in 2017 and 2018, when the GOP controlled the House.
"Republicans actively blocked all Democratic requests over the past two years while President Trump heaped scorn on the very people who lost thousands of their loved ones," reads the letter.
The House Democrats called on the White House to turn over all documents and communications related to hurricane assessments, preparation, and response in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
The request was signed by every Democratic member of the House Oversight Committee, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).
In their letter to FEMA, Democrats requested—among other documents—"communications regarding mass graves found in Puerto Rico" in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
A Harvard study published last year estimated that Hurricane Maria may have killed as many as 6,000 people.
House Democrats led by @RepCummings are today demanding FEMA turn over documents related to Department of Defense "discovery of mass graves in Puerto Rico" on Sept. 29, 2017, soon after Hurricane Maria
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From the letter: pic.twitter.com/0fxYeUbeeJ
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) May 6, 2019
The Democrats' letters come as hurricane relief funding for Puerto Rico remains stalled in Congress due to Trump and Republican opposition.
As Common Dreams reported in March, more than a million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico have seen "dangerous" cuts to food stamp benefits as Congress has failed to approve emergency relief funding.
In a tweet on Monday, Trump repeated the false claim that "Puerto Rico has been given more money by Congress for Hurricane disaster relief, 91 billion dollars, than any state in the history of the U.S."
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) wrote in response to the president's tweet, "The Trump administration continues to withhold most of the funding Congress appropriated more than 15 months ago for Puerto Rico."
"The president is holding disaster aid to all American citizens hostage over a petty, political grudge against Puerto Rico," Leahy tweeted.