As senate passes disaster relief package, lawmakers call for more to be done

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- More than one month since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico help from Congress is finally on its way.

“To see that it was potentially being held up in the senate was very concerning I’m glad to see that it’s passed," Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2) said.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard fought to get a 36.5 billion dollar disaster relief package passed in the House aiding victims of recent hurricanes and devastating wildfires. Tuesday the senate passed it sending it directly to President Trump’s desk. But Gabbard sais their work isn’t finished.

“It’s important for us to not think that this is done and can be set aside because so many people in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are lacking access to power, lacking access to basic needs that they have,” Gabbard added.

As of Thursday, 74% of the island without electricity, 22% without water.

The relief package includes nearly five billion dollars in low interest loans for Puerto Rico helping the island avoid a government shutdown on October 31st. Some senators echoing Gabbard and said more can be done.

“This goes beyond just disaster relief. I think we need to look at federal policies that we can change to help Puerto Rico’s economy grow," Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said.

Rubio wants to see Puerto Rico get as much help as possible. He met with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello just last week to discuss options as the island moves to rebuild critical infrastructure, like fixing the power grid. Rubio wants to ensure that as the rebuilding begins they do it right.

“Let’s not find ourselves here again in a couple of years lets not rebuild putting in, for example, the same type of electric grid that failed miserably when hit by a storm, let’s make sure that when we rebuild we rebuild with the latest and greatest," Rubio added.

Just this week Whitefish Energy a small Montana firm landed a big contract to help restore power to the Island. Rossello asked the Office of Inspector General to conduct a review of the contracting process but defended the deal as he wants to get this done quickly.

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