Democratic Lawmakers Head to Puerto Rico for Weekend Trip as Shutdown Continues

January 13, 2019 Updated: January 13, 2019

About 30 Democratic members of Congress spent the weekend at a winter retreat in Puerto Rico with more than 100 lobbyists and corporate executives, undeterred as the ongoing partial shutdown—now in its 23rd day—broke records for being the longest in U.S. history.

The lawmakers were attending a Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Bold PAC winter retreat, where they also planned to see a performance of the Broadway show “Hamilton” and take part in parties, including one with the show’s cast.

The Democrats also planned to meet with officials in San Juan to learn more about the recovery efforts in wake of Hurricane Maria. The trip was still filled with free time for the members, who brought along their families, according to a memo obtained by the Washington Examiner.

The weekend getaway comes amid the partial government shutdown that has left about 800,000 federal workers with no pay.

A construction crew works (L) as new sections of the U.S.-Mexico border barrier are installed replacing smaller fences on Jan. 11, 2019 as seen from Tijuana, Mexico. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

“This year’s winter retreat promises to be our most widely attended yet with over 220 guests, including 39 members of Congress and CHC Bold PAC supporters expected to attend and participate!” the planning memo said.

The event reportedly took place at a seaside resort where members dress code was “resort casual” and rooms cost about $429 per night.

The members paid to see “Hamilton” with their own money, the memo noted. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the “Hamilton” show, performed in Puerto Rico to raise money for artists and cultural groups struggling in the wake of Hurricane Maria. The show will stay there for two weeks, according to The Associated Press.

In total, some 109 lobbyists and corporate executives are named in the memo, amounting to a rate of about 3.6 lobbyists for each member. Some of the names include major firms such as R.J. Reynolds, Facebook, Comcast, Amazon, PhRMA, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon, and unions such as the National Education Association.

Bold PAC didn’t respond to an emailed request for a list of Democratic lawmakers who were attending.

The Washington Examiner obtained a list containing several names of the congressional attendees, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). But a representative in her office told the Examiner that Pelosi didn’t make the trip with the PAC.

The planned party with the cast is sponsored by Latino Victory, a Democratic political action committee. Democrats are expected to return from the trip on Jan. 14.

Bold PAC Chair Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) said in a statement that the Democrats made the trip to hear “from Commonwealth and local elected officials about the ongoing recovery efforts—we will be closely monitoring the situation in Washington.”

Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, President Donald Trump called on Democrats to work on ending the shutdown.

“The damage done to our Country from a badly broken Border – Drugs, Crime and so much that is bad – is far greater than a Shutdown, which the Dems can easily fix as soon as they come back to Washington!” he wrote on Jan. 13.

Follow Bowen on Twitter: @BowenXiao3

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