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Democrats demand FEMA response on failed Puerto Rico contract



House Democrats want Republicans to subpoena FEMA documents related to a failed contract for emergency meals in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. 

The New York Times reported Tuesday that FEMA canceled a $155 million contract to a small Atlanta-based company to deliver 30 million emergency meals after the company only delivered 50,000 meals because they were improperly packaged. FEMA said there was no shortage of available meals in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria despite the failed contract.

“According to these documents, one of the primary reasons FEMA failed to deliver these meals is because it inexplicably awarded a contract worth approximately $156 million to deliver 30 million emergency meals to a tiny, one-person company with a history of struggling with much smaller contracts,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-V.I., said in a statement.

Cummings and Plaskett want House Oversight chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to "produce documents it has withheld for more than three months relating to its failure to provide tens of millions of emergency meals to U.S. citizens who were victims of the hurricanes in Puerto Rico." 

The pair said there are "significant indicators" that the failed FEMA contract directly affected hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.  

“It appears that the Trump Administration’s response to the hurricanes in Puerto Rico in 2017 suffered from the same flaws as the Bush Administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Food is one of the most basic necessities for victims of natural disasters. This need is completely foreseeable—and in fact it was foreseen,” Cummings and Plaskett said.

Republicans control the House Oversight Committee and have the power to subpoena federal agencies for documents. Democrats have blasted the Trump administration's response in Puerto Rico while Florida Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott have distanced themselves from the Trump administration's response without directly criticizing the president.