WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of lawmakers asked the Trump administration on Monday to maintain an independent State Department office dedicated to assisting poverty-stricken Haiti even as it weighs major budget cuts for the department.
The letter from a dozen lawmakers noted that Haiti has been struck by several natural and man-made disasters in recent years. A 2010 earthquake displaced more than 1 million Haitians and killed many thousands. A cholera epidemic ensued. Also, Hurricane Mathew killed about 1,000 Haitians last year and caused more than $1 billion in property damage.
"These events have created unique challenges that require designated State Department staff to coordinate relief to the Western Hemisphere's most distressed economy," said the lawmakers' letter, which was spearheaded by Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y. The letter was signed by 10 Democrats and two Republicans, including Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, a daughter of Haitian immigrants.
The lawmakers noted that the Haiti-focused office has overseen $4.6 billion in humanitarian relief since it was created following the 2010 earthquake. That aid has allowed for significant economic progress, they said, and is important to "maintain this progress and institutional knowledge at this critical juncture."