As the impeachment trial wrapped up with President Donald Trump’s acquittal Wednesday, Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett said Democrats have done their job in building a strong case against the president. She also hinted at a messaging war that will lead up to the November elections.
“This president now has the license to do what he wants to do. Those are the things that we, as Democrats, will have to make known to the American people in a way that allows them to vote,” Plaskett said.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted to acquit Trump 52-48 on abuse of power charges and 53-47 on charges of obstruction of Congress, ending a bitter impeachment process that prompted accusations of a cover-up on the part of Senate Republicans who refused the Democrats’ demand to call witnesses.
“It’s up to us to show that if we don’t change the Senate, things like this and [Sen.] Mitch McConnell’s misuse of rules will continue,” she said.
Plaskett drew attention to what she said has become a pattern of misuse of rules with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), starting with his refusal to consider Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
“He got away with not allowing that before the election,” Plaskett said. “He has been successful with that, and now we have a trial in the Senate with no witnesses.”
Just before the House of Representatives voted along party lines to impeach the president, she asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to appoint her as a house manager or one of the House members who could serve as prosecutors in the inevitable Senate trial. While Pelosi’s ultimate selection consisted of a smaller group, excluding Plaskett, the house managers “did a great job,” the Delegate to Congress noted.
In the meantime, the work continues for House Democrats, according to Plaskett, including a debate on H.R. 5687. The supplemental funding bill focuses on Puerto Rico and its citizens who were recently impacted by a series of strong earthquakes. More funding for the territories, including the Virgin Islands, is also included in the bill.
If passed, the bill would provide the Virgin Islands roughly $73 million in emergency highway relief funding to fill a backlog of projects as a result of recent disasters, as well as a portion of some $21.75 million in Department of Energy assistance to U.S. territories. Revenue-related provisions in the bill would also raise the rate of rum cover-over monies paid to the Virgin Islands from $13.25 to $13.50 per gallon and make that higher rate permanent.
The supplemental bill would also speed up the disbursement of recovery funding to the territory. If passed, it would mandate Housing and Urban Development to promptly publish the guidelines for dispersing Community Development Block Grant funding set aside for the territory’s electric grid. This, according to Plaskett’s office, would allow the dispersal of some $68 million in CDBG funding to begin within 60 days of HUD’s approval of the territory’s spending plan.
Moreover, the bill would allow the Virgin Islands to use Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to rebuild stronger infrastructure than what existed during pre-hurricane conditions. The funding flexibility currently applies only to infrastructure providing “critical services,” such as hospitals and schools. FEMA funds could also be used for public housing, transportation infrastructure, solid waste management, stormwater management, and non-emergency medical facilities.
For more information regarding H.R. 5687, please select the link below: https://appropriations.house.gov/sites/democrats.appropriations.house.gov/files/documents/HR%205687%20Summary.pdf