Fresh from Puerto Rico, Bill Nelson criticizes the Trump administration's Maria response

The senior senator from Florida said while conditions have improved in recent weeks, U.S. citizens are still struggling.

click to enlarge Fresh from Puerto Rico, Bill Nelson criticizes the Trump administration's Maria response
Kimberly DeFalco

Less than 48 hours after returning from his trip to Puerto Rico with U.S. Rep. Darren Soto (D—Orlando), Democratic U.S. Sen. from Florida Bill Nelson held his second press conference in two days to report the U.S. territory's recovery efforts.

"I'm sad to bring you this report," Nelson said. "I'm going to do everything I can to help the recovery but I'm not getting any help from the White House and I'm not getting any help from the GOP leaders in the Senate."

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, power has been restored to more than 65 percent of the island.

While there, Nelson said he and Soto met with Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello and later toured villages where residents shared one generator and continued to face potable water shortages.

"Unfortunately, the electrical grid is being done by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers," Nelson said. "I can tell you they are as slow as molasses."

With the exodus of roughly 6,000 doctors and hundreds of nurses following the hurricane, medical care is reportedly limited and compromised.

Nelson said he toured hospitals with tarps for roofs and reported and that many are plagued with mold and mildew.

"These are not conditions our fellow American citizens should be living in," Nelson said. "But the realities are the government of the United States and the Republican Congress are not treating this as the emergency that it is."

Following his tour, Nelson said he met with local Puerto Rican community leaders to hear their concerns.

Citing President Trump's inadequate disaster response to Hurricane Maria and last week's GOP-led tax bill, Nelson said he expects Florida Republicans to experience political pressure in 2018, especially given that more than 250,00 Puerto Ricans have come to Florida since the storm.

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