$156M FEMA contract called for 30 million meals in Puerto Rico — and only 50,000 were delivered

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. agency responsible for disaster response hired a contractor that failed to deliver millions of emergency meals in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico last year, U.S. Democratic lawmakers said on Tuesday.

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee cited records that showed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded a nearly $156 million contract to a one-person company that delivered just 50,000 of the expected 30 million meals.

The lawmakers said documents showed the company, Atlanta-based Tribute Contracting, had a history of problems handling smaller government contracts worth less than $100,000 and had been barred from government work until 2019.

Representatives for Tribute and its owner, Tiffany Brown, did not respond to requests for comment.

Puerto Rico is struggling to recover from its worst natural disaster in 90 years and the largest government bankruptcy in U.S. history, with some $120 billion of combined bond and pension debt.

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COROZAL, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 27: Luis Lugo and Awilda Valdez bath in spring water since they have no running water in their home since Hurricane Maria passed through on September 27, 2017 in Corozal, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread, severe damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grids as well as agricultural destruction after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 27: Hector Ojeda and Sonia Robles and Tony Ojeda cross a river on foot after the bridge was washed away when Hurricane Maria passed through on September 27, 2017 in Morovis, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MOROVIS, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 25: A man helps a kid cross the San Lorenzo River in Morovis. Residents of San Lorenzo neighborhood can't access their houses because the river destroyed the bridge that communicate them with the main road of access. The mountain town of Morovis, in the south west of San Juan, is one of the most affected after the pass of Hurricane Mar�. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Maria Martinez stands next to her house which was damaged by Hurricane Maria in Yabucoa in eastern Puerto Rico on September 28, 2017. A week after the Category Four storm stuck, the White House said US President Donald Trump had made it easier for fuel and water supplies to arrive to the ravaged island of 3.4 million US citizens. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 28, 2017: After eight hours in line, Solymlar Duprey, age 47, holds her daughter Miabella Lawston, age 5, as they try to get on an evacuation cruise ship leaving San Juan. 'The situation is so critical. There is no electricity, fuel, water,' said Duprey. She was trying to locate her confirmation number to board the cruise ship. A Royal Caribbean cruise ship is evacuating over 2,000 people from Puerto Rico, St. John, and St. Thomas free of charge. People are attempting to get off of the island as lack of fuel, electricity and running water has crippled Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. (Photo by Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Maria Olivieri removes a tree branch from her backyard a week after the passage of Hurricane Maria in Aibonito, Puerto Rico, on September 27, 2017. The US island territory, working without electricity, is struggling to dig out and clean up from its disastrous brush with the hurricane, blamed for at least 33 deaths across the Caribbean. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
COROZAL, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 27: Irma Maldanado stands with Sussury her parrot in what is left of her home that was destroyed when Hurricane Maria passed through on September 27, 2017 in Corozal, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Residents with gas canisters wait for fuel after Hurricane Maria in the Miramar neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. President�Donald Trump�said he will travel to Puerto Rico to survey damage. He told reporters that the federal government is 'doing a really good job' in relief efforts and has shipped 'massive amounts' of food and water. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A vehicle drives through streets filled with floodwater near destroyed homes from Hurricane Maria in this aerial photograph taken above Barrio Obrero in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island last week, knocking out electricity throughout the island. The territory is facing weeks, if not months, without service as utility workers repair�power�plants and lines that were already falling apart. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
AIBONITO, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 24: People wait in line for water as they wait for gas, electrical and water grids to be repaired September 24, 2017 in Aibonito, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Customers stand in line outside a grocery store in the town of Dorado, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Trump�ordered the Jones Act to be waived for shipments to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico immediately�at the request of Governor�Ricardo Rossello, White House press secretary�Sarah Sanders�said Thursday. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski /Bloomberg via Getty Images
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 22: Power lines and fallen trees block a sidewalk at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus, after Hurricane Maria at Ponce de Leon Avenue in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 22, 2017. (Photo by Pablo Pantoja/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 25: Yancy Leon who has been waiting in line for two days to get an American Airlines flight out of the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport continues to wait as she tries to escape the conditions after Hurricane Maria passed through the island on September 25, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Some of the people have waited days at the airport in hope of getting onto a plane after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Workers fix a light fixture at the San Jorge Children's Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Trump�ordered the Jones Act to be waived for shipments to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico immediately�at the request of Governor�Ricardo Rossello, White House press secretary�Sarah Sanders�said Thursday. Photographer: John Taggart /Bloomberg via Getty Images
Travelers stand in line outside of Luis Muoz Marn International Airport after Hurricane Maria disrupted flight service in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. President�Donald Trump�said he may temporarily suspend a law that restricts the use of foreign ships operating in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports in order to accelerate the delivery of aid to Puerto Rico, where his administration faces mounting criticism over its response to Hurricane Maria. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/ Bloomberg
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Hurricane Maria killed dozens and left Puerto Rico's 3.4 million U.S. citizens without power when it struck on Sept. 20, along with reducing access to clean water and other essentials. FEMA last month said it would continue to provide water, meals and other basic needs after earlier reports that it was going to halt aid.

The House committee's announcement follows an earlier controversy involving contractor Whitefish Energy Holdings, a small Montana firm hired to restore the island's power despite a lack of experience. Governor Ricardo Rossello later canceled that deal.

After winning the October 2017 FEMA contract, Tribute delivered just 50,000 meals to the U.S. territory and was terminated for cause 20 days later, said Representative Elijah Cummings, the committee's top Democrat.

"It is unclear why FEMA or any agency would have proceeded with a contract worth $156 million in light of this company's poor contracting history and these explicit warnings," he wrote, citing documents obtained by panel Democrats.

Cummings and fellow Democrat Stacey Plaskett called on the panel's Republican chairman, Trey Gowdy, to subpoena FEMA for documents on the company and its alleged failure to deliver millions of meals.

Gowdy's spokeswoman Amanda Gonzalez said that sending a subpoena was premature but that the panel would continue to review hurricane recovery efforts.

SEE ALSO: FEMA offers to send Puerto Ricans to the US mainland

FEMA said it could not comment on Tribute, but that at the time the contract was terminated food distribution in Puerto Rico "was not affected."

Agency spokeswoman Jenny Burke said meals continue to be provided on the island and that "there are sufficient commodities both in Puerto Rico and on the mainland to continue to meet identified needs for current or future disasters."

A website for Brown shows her other companies include beauty, fashion, interior design and health and wellness businesses.

(Writing by Susan Heavey, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

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Puerto Rican Debora Oquendo, 43, makes a phone call to a doctor for her 10-month-old daughter in a hotel room where she lives, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 4, 2017. Oquendo and her baby girl Genesis Rivera share a hotel room in Orlando, temporarily paid for by Federal Emergency Management Agency. They fled Puerto Rico in October after Hurricane Maria destroyed their house. Oquendo, who found a part-time job that pays minimum wage, fears they will be homeless when that assistance runs out this month. "I don't have enough money to move to another place," Oquendo said. "I feel alone, and I'm afraid." REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Puerto Rican Jose E. Torres fills out a job application at a supermarket after receiving a notification that he does not qualify for aid provided by the state to Puerto Ricans who were affected by Hurricane Maria, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 13, 2017. Torres arrived from Puerto Rico with his wife Luz Brenda Lebron and three children after Hurricane Maria hit the island in late September. The family lives in a hotel, which provides a temporary housing for displaced Puerto Ricans. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Puerto Rican Luz Brenda Lebron leans on a shopping cart after receiving a notification that she does not qualify for aid provided by the state to Puerto Ricans who were affected by Hurricane Maria, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 13, 2017. Lebron arrived from Puerto Rico with her husband Jose E. Torres and three children after Hurricane Maria hit the island in late September. The family lives in a hotel, which provides a temporary housing for displaced Puerto Ricans. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Food is stored in a chest in hotel room where Luz Brenda Lebron lives with her husband and three children, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 13, 2017. Lebron arrived from Puerto Rico with her family after Hurricane Maria hit the island in late September. The family lives in a hotel, which provides a temporary housing for displaced Puerto Ricans. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Puerto Rican Nydia Irizarry, 45, shows photographs of her daughter Keyshla Betancourt, 22, who suffers from brain cancer, as she receives treatment for cancer at a hospital in Puerto Rico, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 6, 2017. Keyshla came from Puerto Rico in October on a humanitarian flight with her mother and 11-year-old brother Felix Rodriguez after Hurricane Maria hit the island in late September. Suffering with the blood cancer Hodgkin� Lymphoma, Betancourt was deteriorating fast on an island where hospitals have been badly damaged, doctors and nurses have emigrated and electricity outages are still widespread. She is now on Florida's Medicaid plan, which pays for her daily radiation treatments. Living in a cramped Orlando hotel room, the family has no plans to return to the island. "We are staying for good," Betancourt said. "I cannot get the best medical help in Puerto Rico, and it has become even worse after Hurricane Maria." REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Liz Vazquez greets her son Raymond Fernandez Vazquez as he arrives to a hotel after his first day at school in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 6, 2017. Liz, her husband and their two sons arrived to Florida after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in late September. The hotel provides a temporary housing for displaced Puerto Ricans. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Puerto Rican Keyshla Betancourt, 22, who suffers from brain cancer, takes off her wig after her first radiotherapy treatment, at a hotel, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 11, 2017. Keyshla came from Puerto Rico in October on a humanitarian flight with her 45-year-old mother Nydia Irizarry and 11-year-old brother Felix Rodriguez after Hurricane Maria hit the island in late September. Suffering with the blood cancer Hodgkin� Lymphoma, Betancourt was deteriorating fast on an island where hospitals have been badly damaged, doctors and nurses have emigrated and electricity outages are still widespread. She is now on Florida's Medicaid plan, which pays for her daily radiation treatments. Living in a cramped Orlando hotel room, the family has no plans to return to the island. "We are staying for good," Betancourt said. "I cannot get the best medical help in Puerto Rico, and it has become even worse after Hurricane Maria." REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Liz Vazquez helps her son Raymond Fernandez Vazquez with his homework in a hotel room where they live, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 6, 2017. Liz, her husband and their two sons arrived to Florida after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in late September. The hotel provides a temporary housing for displaced Puerto Ricans. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Puerto Rican Waleska Rivera (L), 42, her husband Hector Oyola, 43, and their son Ethan Alejandro Oyola, 9, lie on a bed as Waleska undergoes her dialysis treatment in a hotel room, where she lives with her family, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 7, 2017. The family left Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria struck the island in late September. The hotel provides a temporary housing for displaced Puerto Ricans. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Puerto Rican children accompanied by their parents walk from a school bus stop, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
Puerto Rican Felix Rodriguez, 11, hugs his mother Nydia Irizarry, 45, before a school bus picks him up outside a hotel where he lives with his family, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 11, 2017. Felix, his 22-year-old sister Keyshla Betancourt Irizarry and their mother came from Puerto Rico on a humanitarian flight in October after Hurricane Maria hit the island in late September. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Puerto Rican Nydia Irizarry (R), 45, puts her head on her 22-year-old daughter Keyshla Betancourt's, shoulder who suffers from brain cancer, at a restaurant after Keyshla's first radiotherapy treatment, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 11, 2017. Keyshla came from Puerto Rico in October on a humanitarian flight with her mother and 11-year-old brother Felix Rodriguez after Hurricane Maria hit the island in late September. Suffering with the blood cancer Hodgkin� Lymphoma, Betancourt was deteriorating fast on an island where hospitals have been badly damaged, doctors and nurses have emigrated and electricity outages are still widespread. She is now on Florida's Medicaid plan, which pays for her daily radiation treatments. Living in a cramped Orlando hotel room, the family has no plans to return to the island. "We are staying for good," Betancourt said. "I cannot get the best medical help in Puerto Rico, and it has become even worse after Hurricane Maria." REUTERS/Alvin Baez
Keyshla Betancourt, 22, lies on a bed after her first radiotherapy treatment, at a hotel where she lives in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 11, 2017. Keyshla came from Puerto Rico in October on a humanitarian flight with her 45-year-old mother Nydia Irizarry and 11-year-old brother Felix Rodriguez after Hurricane Maria hit the island in late September. Suffering with the blood cancer Hodgkin� Lymphoma, Betancourt was deteriorating fast on an island where hospitals have been badly damaged, doctors and nurses have emigrated and electricity outages are still widespread. She is now on Florida's Medicaid plan, which pays for her daily radiation treatments. Living in a cramped Orlando hotel room, the family has no plans to return to the island. "We are staying for good," Betancourt said. "I cannot get the best medical help in Puerto Rico, and it has become even worse after Hurricane Maria." REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Puerto Rican Miguel Alvarez and his wife Liz Vazquez sit in a hotel room where they live, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 6, 2017. Miguel and Liz arrived to Florida with their two sons after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in late September. The hotel provides a temporary housing for displaced Puerto Ricans. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Puerto Rican Waleska Rivera, 42, looks at her sleeping son Ethan Alejandro Oyola, 9, as she undergoes her dialysis treatment in a hotel room, where she lives with her family, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 7, 2017. Waleska left Puerto Rico with her family when Hurricane Maria struck the island in late September. The hotel provides a temporary housing for displaced Puerto Ricans. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
Puerto Ricans Liz Vazquez (L), Anaitza Soler (2nd-L) and Cyd Marie Pagan (2nd-R) fill out documentation to receive aid from an NGO Salvation Army at a hotel in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 7, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Puerto Rican Felix Martell, 43, hugs his 5-year-old daughter Eliany outside a hotel where they live in Ocala, Florida, U.S., December 2, 2017. Martell is the primary caretaker for the child after his wife died two years ago. He worried Eliany's education would suffer in Puerto Rico due to lengthy school closures following Hurricane Maria. Father and daughter are now living in a run-down hotel paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Martell has yet to find a job. Still, he said there is no turning back. "The girl has learned more in three weeks of school here than in the entire semester on the island," he said. "I am concentrating on her future." REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Hygiene products and other things belonging to Puerto Rican Sergio Diaz, 54, lie on a table in a hotel room where Diaz now lives, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., November 30, 2017. Diaz lost his house in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria hit the island in late September. The hotel provides a temporary housing for displaced Puerto Ricans. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Puerto Rican Eliany Martell, 5, reacts to being scolded by her father Felix Martell (L), 43, at a launderette in Ocala, Florida, U.S., December 2, 2017. Martell is the primary caretaker for the child after his wife died two years ago. He worried Eliany's education would suffer in Puerto Rico due to lengthy school closures following Hurricane Maria. Father and daughter are now living in a run-down hotel paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Martell has yet to find a job. Still, he said there is no turning back. "The girl has learned more in three weeks of school here than in the entire semester on the island," he said. "I am concentrating on her future." REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Puerto Rican Sergio Diaz, 54, sits on a bed in a hotel room where he now lives, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., November 30, 2017. Diaz lost his house in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria hit the island in late September. The hotel provides a temporary housing for displaced Puerto Ricans. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Puerto Rican Debora Oquendo, 43, plays with her 10-month-old daughter as she takes a bath in a hotel where she lives, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 12, 2017. Oquendo and her baby girl Genesis Rivera share a hotel room in Orlando, temporarily paid for by Federal Emergency Management Agency. They fled Puerto Rico in October after Hurricane Maria destroyed their house. Oquendo, who found a part-time job that pays minimum wage, fears they will be homeless when that assistance runs out this month. "I don't have enough money to move to another place," Oquendo said. "I feel alone, and I'm afraid." REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
People take food at a church which distributes aid to Puerto Ricans affected by Hurricane Maria, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Puerto Rican Debora Oquendo, 43, pushes her baby pram into a hall of a hotel where she lives with her 10-month-old daughter, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 12, 2017. Oquendo and her baby girl Genesis Rivera share a hotel room in Orlando, temporarily paid for by Federal Emergency Management Agency. They fled Puerto Rico in October after Hurricane Maria destroyed their house. Oquendo, who found a part-time job that pays minimum wage, fears they will be homeless when that assistance runs out this month. "I don't have enough money to move to another place," Oquendo said. "I feel alone, and I'm afraid." REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Puerto Ricans attend a Spanish Mass conducted by Father Jose Rodriguez at the Episcopal Church Jesus of Nazareth, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., November 26, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
Debora Oquendo (C), 43, cries as she leans on her friend at a church which distributes aid to Puerto Ricans affected by Hurricane Maria, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 9, 2017. Oquendo and her baby girl Genesis Rivera share a hotel room in Orlando, temporarily paid for by Federal Emergency Management Agency. They fled Puerto Rico in October after Hurricane Maria destroyed their house. Oquendo, who found a part-time job that pays minimum wage, fears they will be homeless when that assistance runs out this month. "I don't have enough money to move to another place," Oquendo said. "I feel alone, and I'm afraid." REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
People buy groceries at Willers Supermarket which specializes in Puerto Rican products, in Kissimmee, Florida, U.S., December 3, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
People buy food from a Puerto Rican food truck in Kissimmee, Florida, U.S., December 10, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
People buy Puerto Rican food at Willers Supermarket which specialises in Puerto Rican products, in Kissimmee, Florida, U.S., December 10, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
People dance as Jibaro music band plays at El Jibarito Restaurant where Puerto Ricans gather, in Kissimmee, Florida, U.S., December 10, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez 
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