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LARSON: We Need a Long Term Solution to Help Those in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

October 12, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. - Today, Rep. John B. Larson (CT-01) released the following statement after voting for the disaster relief supplemental.

“Although I voted for the $36.5 billion disaster supplemental today, I did so with a heavy heart. It has been three weeks since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 83 percent of Puerto Rico still lacks power, only 64 percent have access to clean water, and there’s still limited access to adequate food supply, and other basic necessities. Just two days ago, the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services said the devastation he saw was the equivalent to a nuclear detonation and that whatever we do will be insufficient to the demand and need that is there. Although a $4.9 billion loan will help local authorities in the short-term, it is not a sustainable plan for long term recovery considering the scale of the damage.  The islands are in dire need for assistance to restore critical infrastructure, which is why it would be much more effective to focus on funding recovery grants and waiving federal matching requirements until both territories become more economically stable.  This is further reason that Congress must continue to work on behalf of the more than 3.5 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to ensure they have the resources needed for immediate relief and to assist them towards a long term recovery.  Additional action from Congress will be required, and I look forward to voting on future legislation to aid Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said Larson.

 Summary of the Additional Supplemental Appropriation for Disaster Relief Requirements Act of 2017:

  • $18.67 billion for DHS/FEMA, of which $4.9 billion can be used for Disaster Loan Program Account for Community Disaster Loans to help local governments affected by recent hurricanes;

$16 billion cancellation of National Flood Insurance Program debt;

  • $1.2 billion for disaster nutrition assistance in Puerto Rico through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);

•  $576.5 million for wildfire efforts;

     •  No funding for the Small Business Administration (SBA) low interest direct loans to

         assist homeowners and small businesses with recovery and rebuilding;

•  No funding for Community Development Block Grants (HUD);

  • No funding for restoration and repair of damage sustained by ports, highways, transit, airports, and air traffic control infrastructure;
  • No funding for Medicaid and community health centers.

Larson previously sent a letter to President Trump requesting waiving the federal matching requirements.