WASHINGTON — As Hurricane Dorian scraped Florida, the state’s two senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott who are both Republicans, have focused attention on helping the Bahamas.
The death toll from Hurricane Dorian’s strike on the archipelago has risen to 20 and is expected to keep rising.
Wednesday, the senators penned a letter to President Donald Trump asking the administration to make it easier for Bahamians to seek shelter in the United States by waiving certain visa requirements for Bahamian citizens with relatives living in the United States.
The pair acknowledged Florida’s strong ties to the Bahamas in the letter and also wrote “perhaps one of the most basic yet meaningful steps our government can take immediately is to ensure that those who have lost everything, including family members in some instances, are provided the opportunity for shelter and reunification with family in the United States.”
More: Hurricane Dorian death toll in the Bahamas jumps to 20 and is expected to ‘increase significantly’
Rubio wrote another letter Thursday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mark Green, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, urging them “to ensure all possible resources are made available to secure the safety and protection of Bahamian citizens” and requesting the State Department provide an “assessment of all humanitarian assistance readily available under accounts, and of whether you anticipate additional funds will be needed for disaster relief.”
Scott also released additional proposals Thursday aimed to help Bahamians recover. These include changing the tax code to incentivize charitable giving by filing a bill to eliminate and the cap on deductibility of charitable contributions doing disaster relief work in the wake of Dorian.
Scott proposed redirecting foreign aid that currently goes to Russia, North Korea, China, Iran Syria, Cuba and Yemen to “support Bahamian recoveries.”
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Additionally, echoing a tone he set in July, Scott is again calling on the Peace Corps to end all of its activities in China. He said then in a statement that “what the Peace Corps shouldn’t be doing is propping up our adversaries with U.S. tax dollars. Let’s remember, China is a wealthy nation that certainly has the resources to fund initiatives.”
Now, Scott is calling on the Peace Corps to support recovery in the Bahamas. And his proposal states that “all personnel and resources should be transferred from China to the Bahamas by October 1, 2019.”
The prime minister of the Bahamas, Hubert Minnis, reportedly said on Tuesday that the Bahamas is “in the midst of one of the great national crises in our country’s history.”
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