The Serrano Report - Volume XVI, Issue #40
In Washington, D.C.
Congressman Serrano and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Requests Meeting With Smithsonian Institution
Congressman Serrano, Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, Chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), Senator Robert Menendez and members of CHC leadership, sent a letter to Smithsonian Institution Secretary David Skorton, requesting a meeting to discuss concerns about the recent findings from a University of California study that found that the Smithsonian has failed to heed its own recommendations and take measures to improve the representation of Latinos and Latinas across exhibitions and its workforce.
Congressman Serrano and Senator Robert Menendez are the primary Democratic sponsors of the National Museum of the American Latino Act (H.R. 2911/S. 1364). The National Museum of the American Latino Act is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative effort to establish the National Museum of the American Latino within the Smithsonian Institution and help share and celebrate the history, culture, arts, and contributions made by Latinos in the United States. Full text of the letter follows and can be found here.
Last week Congressman Serrano also attended a reception to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and support the campaign for a Smithsonian Latino Museum.
On 1 Year Anniversary of Hurricane Maria, Congressman Serrano Introduces COMPROMISO Act
In commemorating Hurricane Maria's passage through Puerto Rico a year ago, Congressman Serrano introduced the COMPROMISO Act - the Continuing Our Mission in Puerto Rico to Optimize and Modernize Infrastructure and Sustain Obligations Act. Co-sponsored by Reps. González-Colón, Velázquez, Soto, and Gutiérrez, the bill would extend 100 percent cost share waivers for FEMA categories A and B in Puerto Rico. This will ensure that the federal government continues covering the costs of emergency assistance to the island after Hurricane Maria.
In 2007, in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma, Dennis and Rita, similar language was incorporated into Public Law 110-28 to extend local cost share waivers for the Gulf Coast states that had been affected by these hurricanes. Click here for background info and more details on this change.
“One year after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is still struggling to fully recover. While we’ve made tremendous progress in Congress by securing significant emergency relief funding for the island, most of this funding hasn’t been disbursed and the island is still going through a financial crisis. Puerto Rico’s local government still can’t bear the burden of FEMA’s cost share requirement, and demanding that it do so now will only further slow and hinder local recovery efforts. This bill will extend the cost share waivers to ensure the federal government continues covering this cost as it did in the Gulf Coast states after Hurricane Katrina,” said Congressman Serrano.
Congressman Serrano also published an Op-Ed on The Hill today on the one year anniversary of Hurricane Maria’s passage through Puerto Rico, the federal government’s response, and the need for the federal government to commit itself to the island’s reconstruction. To read the article click here.
Congressman Serrano has been a vocal advocate for Puerto Rico for many years, he has been a leader in seeking adequate resources for the rebuilding of Puerto Rico post Hurricane Maria:
Congressman Serrano, Congresswoman Velazquez, Senator Gillibrand, Senator Warren and Senator Sanders Continue Pressuring Secretary DeVos and Dept. of Education for Answers on Status of Emergency Funding
Congressman Serrano led a letter, along with Congresswoman Velázquez, and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos following up on two previous letters to inquire about the status of federal disaster aid allocated to help displaced students and directly impacted institutions of higher education affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
The members questioned again why only such a small percentage of the funding appropriated for these purposes had been disbursed; why numerous application hurdles hadn’t been fixed or addressed, and why the Department continues to ignore criticism and recommendations from members of Congress.
“As you are aware, the Puerto Rican government’s official estimate of the lives lost in Puerto Rico from these hurricanes and their aftermaths was recently revised, indicating that 2,975 individuals perished in the storms. Many communities, particularly in rural areas, continue to struggle to recover. Nevertheless, it appears the Department has only spent $5.4 million, or just seven percent, of the $75 million Congress appropriated in disaster aid for displaced students affected by the hurricanes. Of the $100 million Congress appropriated for directly impacted institutions of higher education, the Department has only disbursed $63 million, leaving nearly $37 million of that funding left unspent. It was Congress’s intent to have this funding disbursed as quickly as possible to help affected students recover and to complete their studies. Unfortunately, it appears that the Department fails to see any sense of urgency in the matter—even as a new hurricane season has begun,” the members wrote.
“It is unfortunate that the Department appears to be doing only the minimum to provide funding to students and institutions of higher education impacted by last year’s hurricanes. We hope that you actively work to change that perception by making recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and other impacted areas a high priority for the Department, just as you would any other state. Additionally, it is essential for the Department to act expediently in order to be able to adequately respond to storm damage that may occur during the current hurricane season. We look forward to your prompt response to the questions above,” the group added.
Click here to read the full text of the letter.
In the Bronx
Congressman Serrano Meets with SoBro
Last week Congressman Serrano met with SoBro representatives to discuss the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency Business Center program which helps minority businesses start and thrive. As the Ranking Member of the Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee, part of the Appropriations Committee, Congressman Serrano oversees funding for the agency and the program. Congressman Serrano has been a long time supporter of the Business Center program which has helped organizations such as SoBro assist thousands of people in the Bronx find jobs, create jobs, and continue to make our community stronger.
Congressman Serrano Meets with Constituents With the Food Bank of New York City
Congressman Serrano also met last week with constituents that traveled to Washington D.C. to be part of the annual Anti-Hunger Advocacy Day to discuss the 2018 Farm Bill. Congressman Serrano has been a strong supporter of robust funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which are vital for our community's most vulnerable populations, and will continue to support these programs.