Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: New Interactive Comparison of Gov. Scott and Sen. Nelson Reveals Effects of Their Policies on Puerto Ricans in Florida and Puerto Rico
Press Release

RELEASE: New Interactive Comparison of Gov. Scott and Sen. Nelson Reveals Effects of Their Policies on Puerto Ricans in Florida and Puerto Rico

Washington, D.C. — A new Center for American Progress Action Fund interactive comparison of Gov. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) and Sen. Bill Nelson’s (D-FL) record lays out their policy positions on a range of issues important to Puerto Rican families in the state of Florida and in Puerto Rico.

The interactive makes it clear that Gov. Scott’s (R-FL) policy decisions, which are closely aligned with the Trump administration’s policies, would harm Puerto Rican families both in Florida and in Puerto Rico. In contrast, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) has strongly fought the Trump’s administration’s inadequate hurricane response and has pushed for favorable policies that support the Puerto Rican diaspora in Florida and those in Puerto Rico, even before the devastation brought by Hurricane Maria and the disastrous government response.

Response to Hurricane Maria

  • Sen. Nelson publicly acknowledged that Puerto Ricans were victims of the government’s “inadequate response.”
  • Gov. Scott backed the federal government’s response even though the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) failed to house disaster victims, and thousands died.

Health care

  • Sen. Nelson voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), defended protections for those with pre-existing conditions, supports the expansion of Medicaid in Florida, and sponsored legislation that would eliminate the Medicaid cap on funding for Puerto Rico.
  • Gov. Scott founded an organization to overturn the ACA, and Florida is party to a lawsuit to overturn the law and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. He’s also opposed Medicaid expansion that would cover 800,000 additional people in Florida while not publicly or on the record supporting a request from Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to address Medicaid parity.

Housing

  • Sen. Nelson worked to help displaced Puerto Rican families in Florida stay in temporary FEMA-funded housing and introduced legislation to establish a special program for disaster housing.
  • Gov. Scott’s most recent state budget cuts $92 million from affordable housing—at a time when Florida faces a housing shortage.

Environment 

  • Sen. Nelson introduced legislation to support coastal communities in upgrading their infrastructure to address climate change.
  • Gov. Scott is a climate change denier, moved to abolish a commission to better coordinate state climate policy, and fought Environmental Protection Agency efforts to limit agricultural and sewage runoff that cause the algal blooms that are causing health, environmental, and economic damage.

“Gov. Scott, one of President Donald Trump’s earliest establishment Republican supporters, likes to boast about the number of times that he’s visited Puerto Rico, but no number of visits will cover up his clear failure to support policies that help Puerto Ricans either in Florida or Puerto Rico or his outrageous assessment that he wouldn’t have done anything differently than the Trump administration in the federal response to Hurricane Maria,” said Winnie Stachelberg, executive vice president for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “It’s clear from our analysis that Sen. Nelson has been a long-time supporter and champion of polices that help Puerto Ricans obtain well-paying jobs and access affordable health care and housing. And, in addition to holding the Trump Administration accountable for its failed, negligent disaster response that contributed to the death of 3,000 Puerto Ricans, he’s been working tirelessly to help those forced to leave the island due to the devastation of Hurricane Maria and are working to rebuild their lives in Florida.”

View the interactive: Policy Decisions Affecting Puerto Ricans in Florida: A Comparison of Gov. Scott and Sen. Nelson.

For more information on this topic or to talk to an expert, please contact Rafael Medina at rjmedina@americanprogress.org or 202-478-5313.