U.S. Sen. Rick Scott has messaged heavily on the continuing question of relief for Puerto Rico, but three Congressional Democrats say he’s all talk and no action.
U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Darren Soto and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell teamed up on a press call opposing Scott, after Florida’s junior Senator earned a great deal of earned media in recent days for heated exchanges with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Schumer charged that Scott backed an eviscerated aid bill, with nothing for Puerto Rico but $600 million in nutritional assistance. Scott said that Schumer was trying to kill a bi-partisan bill.
Castor, of Tampa Bay, said the Democrats “urge disaster aid around the country, including the Panhandle and Puerto Rico.”
“Recovery after Hurricane Maria and Michael is being stalled by red tape and President Trump’s refusal to help the people of Puerto Rico,” Castor said.
“It’s very painful to see Sen. Scott give in to Pres. Trump’s blatant disregard for the people of Puerto Rico,” Castor said, noting that Trump has “not been truthful” regarding his commitment to the protectorate.
“He claimed that $91 billion has gone to Puerto Rico … it’s been $11 billion,” Castor said.
“Sen. Rick Scott had a chance to side with Puerto Rico, but he sided with Pres. Trump,” Castor added, saying that’s “completely inconsistent” with his rhetoric.
“Disaster aid used to be bi-partisan,” Castor noted. But that was before Pres. Trump.
“It’s very hard to see why a Senator from Florida wouldn’t stand up for his state and for the people of Puerto Rico,” Castor said, calling it another “flip flop” from the veteran Republican.
Soto, of Orlando, urged the Senate to “pass out the House bill.”
“It’s amazing to me that Sen. Scott is choosing to stand with Pres. Trump, holding Puerto Rico as a grudge match with Leader Schumer.”
“He’s saying he’d be the Senator from Puerto Rico,” Soto added. “This ain’t it.”
Soto noted the Commonwealth status leads to Puerto Rico being treated in a “second-class way,” spotlighting his own bill to make Puerto Rico a state.
Trump’s use of “inflated figures,” Soto said, was a “disgraceful … attempt to block additional funding.”
Rep. Mucarsel-Powell echoed the consensus of “outrage and concern … over one of the highest levels of incompetence in the U.S. Senate.”
“Puerto Ricans are Americans and they need our assistance,” Mucarsel-Powell said. “It needs funding for roads, bridges, and to rebuild the power grid.”
Mucarsel-Powell added that Scott claims to be a “champion for the people of Puerto Rico.”
“In reality,” the Congresswoman added, “he’s a champion for Pres. Trump.”
Scott’s office, in comments from Communications Director Chris Hartline Tuesday evening, accused the Democratic trio of political opportunism.
“Two weeks ago,” Hartline said, “Florida Dems were urging Senate Dems to support the bill Rick Scott co-sponsored that provides important disaster relief funding for Florida and Puerto Rico.”
“But apparently they got new marching orders from Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and changed their tune. Rick Scott’s actually working on getting a deal done to get this bill across the finish line. The political hackery of Florida’s most liberal politicians is not of any concern to us,” Hartline added.