Top Democrat pushing $3.4B emergency measure for Puerto Rico

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Earthquake monitoring and recording equipment is maintained by scientists from the United States Geological Survey amid aftershocks across the island's southern coast where recent quakes have toppled homes and schools in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. The seismic activity that experts say is unusual but not unexpected has unleashed scientific debate about whats causing it and drawn international attention to the area, where more than 4,000 people have sought shelter as they wonder when the ground will stop trembling. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

WASHINGTON, DC – A top House Democrat is introducing a $3.4 billion emergency spending bill to help Puerto Rico deal with a recent spate of earthquakes rocking the U.S. territory, which is still struggling to rebuild and recover from devastating hurricanes in 2017.

A spokesman for Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said the measure will be unveiled Thursday, focusing on money for education, rebuilding roads and other transportation infrastructure, and other emergency needs like housing.

The legislation is coming after the administration this week released $8.2 billion in long-delayed hurricane relief — but only after months of complaints and prodding by Democrats, who say the administration is unfairly creating delays as the territory suffers.

“There is no justifiable reason for this petty and egregious treatment of the people of Puerto Rico, and we should not laud these simple steps forward amidst a barrage of unjustifiable delay and the continued suffering of American citizens," said senior Senate Appropriations Committee Democrat Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

The measure should sail through the Democratic-controlled House but faces tougher going in the GOP-held Senate and skepticism at best from the White House, which has no comparable request.