CHN: Disaster Aid for Puerto Rico Passed in House; Administration Deems “Unnecessary”

In an earlier attempt to reopen the government and provide much-needed disaster relief, the House on Jan. 16 passed (237-187) a bill that that included stopgap funding for closed federal agencies through Feb. 8 and  more than $14 billion in aid to victims of hurricanes, wildfires, typhoons, and volcanoes across the U.S. and its territories in 2018. Included was $600 million in disaster aid for Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP), which the Trump Administration called “excessive and unnecessary” in its official Statement of Administration Policy. In addition, President Trump reportedly told Administration officials last fall that he “did not want a single dollar going to Puerto Rico, because he thought the island was misusing the money…” Congress had appropriated.

In response, Enrique Fernández-Toledo, director of the Puerto Rico Relief and Economic Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress, said in a statement, “NAP disaster supplemental funding is set to run out of money in March, leaving more than 1.3 million Puerto Rican families to face benefit cuts and 100,000 more families without NAP benefits for the remaining six months of fiscal year 2019. We cannot let Puerto Rican families who continue to suffer from unemployment and food insecurity following hurricanes Irma and Maria fall through the cracks.”