WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Lawmakers are coming together with a new solution for two struggling territories.
"Half of the people there, American citizens all, still have no electricity," Vermont Senator Bernie Sander (I-VT) said.
Sanders is introducing a new comprehensive plan to help the people of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Two months after hurricanes Irma and Maria many still don’t have access to clean water, food, and other basic necessities.
“This isn’t just a natural disaster it is an economic disaster that local governments of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands cannot dig out of on their own," New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said.
Gillibrand is cosponsoring Sanders bill they said would not only help Puerto Rico and USVI recover but give the islands the tools to rebuild.
This bill would address the immediate humanitarian crisis without forcing the territories to take on more debt.
It also asks Congress to address Puerto Rico’s debt, which has been plaguing the island for over a decade.
But opponents said reform needs to start on the inside first.
“If that isn’t fixed no amount of money is going to change you know the reality for Puerto Rican citizens," Salim Furth with the Heritage Foundation said.
Furth said he agreed the Islands need some temporary help to get back on their feet after Septembers devastating hurricanes. But said when it comes to running the government and deciding what to do with the debt in Puerto Rico that’s the territories responsibility.
“If Puerto Rico going to succeed in the long term we can’t come in with Band-Aids on all these real deep structural problems and I see this bill as short circuiting the reform effort that is going to make Puerto Rico successful in the rest of the 21st century," he added.
In total, the bill would give $146 billion to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands for recovery and rebuilding efforts.
But the future of the legislation remains uncertain as it faces an uphill battle gaining Republican support.