A congressional trip to Puerto Rico during the partial government shutdown, reportedly attended by one local representative, is receiving criticism from the White House and here in Fresno.
Caribbean news organizations reported that Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) was in Puerto Rico with a congressional delegation this past weekend.
The trip, organized by Bold PAC, an arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, drew criticism from many conservatives, including President Donald Trump.
“So, I’ve been here all weekend. A lot of the Democrats were in Puerto Rico celebrating something. I don’t know, maybe they’re celebrating the shutdown,” Trump told reporters Monday before departing the White House for an event in New Orleans.
Rival Criticizes Costa
“Instead of Congressman Jim Costa doing his job to work towards a deal to reopen the government or work on policies so we can have a better future, Costa goes on a junket trip to Puerto Rico and stays at a luxury resort with lots of lobbyists. No wonder nothing has changed.”—Elizabeth Heng
Elizabeth Heng, the Republican whom Costa defeated in the November election, criticized Costa’s attendance at the event.
“The government is shut down and Valley families don’t know when they’ll get their next paycheck. Instead of Congressman Jim Costa doing his job to work towards a deal to reopen the government or work on policies so we can have a better future, Costa goes on a junket trip to Puerto Rico and stays at a luxury resort with lots of lobbyists. No wonder nothing has changed,” Heng said.
A spokeswoman in Costa’s Washington office said she could not comment because Costa’s participation was not official business.
Michael Evans, chair of the Fresno County Democratic Party, understood the need for Costa’s visit.
“Although the federal government is shut down, some of our elected officials know and understand that are still problems that must be addressed. The ongoing crisis in the Puerto Rican recovery is one such concern. Kudos to Rep. Jim Costa for making this a priority,” Evans said.
Costa Attends Meetings, ‘Hamilton’ Performance
Dominican Republic news organization Al Momento reported that Costa, along with 37 other members of Congress, met with Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to discuss post-hurricane recovery efforts.
Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia reported that Costa attended a performance of “Hamilton” featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda. Media reports said that delegation members had to pay for their own ticket to the smash-hit musical.
“Three hours before the beginning of the musical was observed in the vicinity of Fine Arts the presence of a large number of police and security personnel waiting for the arrival of the group of about 30 U.S. congressmen invited to the function. They made their group entrance and quickly went to the theater for a special entrance, without comment,” the paper reported.
The junket also included a summit with the Latino Victory Fund, which works to elect Latino candidates.
“We started planning this a year ago and just because there’s a Trump shutdown, it doesn’t mean that the world is going to stop,” Rep. Tony Cárdenas (R-Calif.), who is Bold PAC chairman, told The Hill.
“We appreciate and respect every single worker who’s being punished by Donald Trump. But at the same time, there’s over 3.2 million Puerto Rican American citizens on this island that deserve for us to continue to do our job.”