Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), with the support of other progressive senators, introduced Tuesday a hurricane recovery package for Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from a direct hit from Hurricane Maria in September.
The bill would cost taxpayers $146 billion.
What does the bill do?
According to The Washington Post, Sanders’ recovery plan would rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid using renewable energy resources, in addition to helping the island’s transportation, education, health care, and environmental needs. The plan also calls on Congress to forgive the majority of Puerto Rico’s debt.
The plan would give $51 billion for economic development, $27 billion for new infrastructure and $62 billion straight to the island's government. The bill would also send aid to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Sanders’ plan is much more generous than what even Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló requested. He asked the federal government for only $94 billion. As a result, the Post noted that Sanders’ bill likely won’t get a floor vote in Congress.
What did Sanders say about the bill?
Sanders said in a statement:
More than two months after Hurricane Maria, in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, most of the homes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still without electricity. This is beyond belief.
Congress must work with the people of Puerto Rico to fundamentally transform its expensive, antiquated and unreliable system.
The Post reported that San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who became a nationwide figure after the hurricane, supports Sanders’ plan.
Cruz said in a statement: "While dealing with all major areas of immediate concern: energy, health and education [the plan] also sets the foundation to make Puerto Rico a more equitable, just and fair society for all. Senator Sanders also shows a great deal of respect and faith in us when claiming that the recovery [of] Puerto Rico must be in Puerto Rican hands."
Co-sponsors for the bill include Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).