WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is restricting members of Congress from making official visits as part of official delegations to the hurricane-battered U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, congressional sources from both parties said Wednesday.
"It's very foggy and confusing, but, yes, [congressional delegations] haven't been given clearance to go" to Puerto Rico, a senior House Democratic aide told NBC News, confirming a report in The Washington Post.
The administration was telling lawmakers that only "life supporting trips" could be made to the U.S. territories using official government resources, said a spokesperson for Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., who had been scheduled to join a delegation to the region after hurricanes Irma and Maria left large parts of the islands without power, running water, gasoline or cellphone service.
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The office of Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who had been organizing a visit to Puerto Rico by several representatives and senators from both parties, "is now trying to figure out alternatives to make this happen, as the situation on the island is extremely dire," a spokesperson said.
"My boss is eager to get down there to assess the federal response thus far," the spokesperson said.
An administration official told NBC News, "The White House, DHS, and DOD, working together, are asking to hold on any Puerto Rico/USVI travel outside of missions directly related to lifesaving and life-sustaining relief."