Washington, D.C. — In response to the Trump administration’s opposition to H.R. 268, or the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2019—which provides supplemental disaster relief, including $600 million in funding for Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP)—Enrique Fernández-Toledo, director of the Puerto Rico Relief and Economic Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
President Donald Trump claims that the $600 million in additional disaster assistance NAP funding allocated by Congress for Puerto Rico in fiscal year 2019 is “excessive” and “unnecessary,” and there is “no indication” that households or Puerto Rico need more support or time—but he couldn’t be more wrong.
The island urgently needs support to aid our fellow Americans in recovering from the destruction of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Yet 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.
In response to a Washington Post report that President Trump “did not want a single dollar going to Puerto Rico,” Fernández-Toledo added:
According to published reports, Trump directed his team to stop U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) money—which was appropriated by Congress—from going to Puerto Rico, after he falsely claimed that the money was being misused. Even as the island struggles to recover from a historic hurricane that resulted in 3,000 mostly preventable deaths, Trump is engaging in another example of disaster racism. Just a few days after reports of a possible plan to divert money from disaster-damaged areas for a border wall, Trump stated that he wants the money to go to Texas and Florida instead. Now, HUD is using the partial government shutdown as an excuse to halt disaster recovery efforts—even though their own contingency plans state that a shutdown should not affect disaster-related funding processes.
President Trump needs to stop putting the island and lives of more Puerto Ricans at risk. HUD must remove any institutional or bureaucratic barriers that delay these urgently needed funds for the reconstruction of Puerto Rico. This funding will help alleviate suffering and prevent further destruction that may potentially hit Puerto Rico in the current or next hurricane season.
For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Rafael Medina at gro.ssergorpnacirema@anidemjr or 202-478-5313.