WASHINGTON – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the death of her grandfather after Hurricane Maria and thousands of others highlight the “chronic neglect” the US government has shown the people of Puerto Rico.
“What we saw in Puerto Rico was a mass death of 3,000 people. It was the worst humanitarian crisis in modern American history and many, many people impacted by this storm point to government inaction as the cause of death,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
The progressive darling said her grandfather died in a medical facility in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the storm, but didn’t elaborate on the details.
“You don’t know whether a hospital lost power,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “My grandfather was in a medical facility and he had passed away in the middle of the night. The people who pass away in these storms are the most vulnerable.”
She’s blasted the Trump Administration for not investing in Puerto Rico and for not fighting climate change.
“It’s acute situations like this in which Puerto Ricans continue to be treated like second-class citizens,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Puerto Rico was given a fraction of the FEMA recovery as Houston, for example, in Hurricane Harvey.”
President Trump has praised his response to Hurricane Maria as an “unsung success.” He denied the death toll of nearly 3,000 lives lost directly and indirectly in the storm and suggested they were made up numbers. The government of Puerto Rico has accepted the new death toll after commissioning a study by George Washington University.
On Sunday, Trump’s FEMA Administrator Brock Long declined to endorse the updated 3,000 death tally and echoed his boss’s skepticism.
“There’s a lot of issues with numbers being all over the place. It’s hard to tell what’s accurate and what’s not,” Long told “Fox News Sunday.”
Ocasio-Cortez beat longtime Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens) in an upset primary win in June by campaigning on a progressive agenda, such as Medicare for all, a federal jobs guarantee and tuition-free public college. CNN’s Jake Tapper pressed Ocasio-Cortez on how she would pay for the giveaways that are estimated to cost at least $40 trillion.
The 28-year-old declined to say where the money would come from but insisted they are not “pie in the sky” ideas.
“Medicare for all would save the American people a very large amount of money … these are generational investments,” she said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo dismissed Ocasio-Cortez’s win as a “fluke” after he trounced her favored candidate, Cynthia Nixon, in the gubernatorial primary on Thursday.
Ocasio-Cortez said she was most focused Thursday not on Nixon, but on electing local candidates with a progressive agenda. “Every single down ballot progressive candidate in my district – New York 14 – won,” she said of her Queens and Bronx district. “New York had a profound tidal change, really, in the Democratic Party.”
Also Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh shouldn’t get a vote in the Senate until an anonymous sexual misconduct allegation against him is investigated.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) revealed Thursday she referred the complaint to the FBI, though the unnamed woman first stepped forward in July. The woman alleges more than 30 years ago when she and Kavanaugh were both in high school he held her down at a party and tried to force himself on her. Kavanaugh has denied any sexual misconduct then or at any time in of his life.
“What is going right now is there is not due process and we’re looking at brushing a potentially and extremely concerning incident under the rug,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Democrats didn’t raise the allegation during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to vote on his nomination on Thursday.