Politics

Virgin Islands GOP Begs Congress Not To Give Them ‘Blank Checks’ For Hurricane Repairs

Republicans from the Virgin Islands are requesting scrutiny and controls on the disaster relief aid Congress intends to provide to deal with the devastation from Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

GOP representatives from the the islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John, all U.S. territories, are in Washington, D.C., this week to push legislators to avoid spending unchecked millions on disaster aid that could lead to waste and corruption.

“We are here telling our fellow Republicans in the administration and Congress that strict scrutiny is needed to recover and rebuild our island communities,” Jevon Williams, a committeeman representing the Virgin Islands in the Republican National Committee, said in a statement provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “For too long, Washington, under Democrats and Republicans, wrote checks without asking the tough questions.”

The territorial government of the Virgin Islands “was already in shambles before hurricanes Irma and Maria struck,” the Republican Party of the Virgin Islands said in the press release. The public debt held by the islands doubled between 2005 and 2015, reaching $2.6 billion, according to an October report from the Government Accountability Office.

Congress approved a $36.5 billion disaster aid package in October that encompasses recovery efforts for hurricanes and wildfires in the states and U.S. territories. The package includes a provision to allow Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to request up to $18.7 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund.

The cost of rebuilding the Virgin Islands’ electrical grid, which still has not been completely repaired, is around $200 million, Gov. Kenneth Mapp estimated in September.

Williams will meet with members the House and Senate, as well as officials at the Department of the Interior and the White House with Virgin Islands GOP vice chairman April Newland and the party’s former executive director Dennis Lennox.

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