Washington DC - As Democrats and Republicans head toward a budget showdown this week, several Puerto Rico amendments could be added to budget bills. More than a million US citizens in Puerto Rico could lose food assistance benefits if Congress does not authorize an additional $600 million for the Nutritional Assistance Program (NAP).
"Before Congress goes on recess, Congress must approve funding so that poor kids, the elderly, disabled and the most vulnerable can access food in Puerto Rico," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte. On Monday, LeCompte's organization rallied more than 20,000 of its members to urge Congress to pass the NAP funding before year-end.
260,000 people will lose benefits and more than a million people will see their benefits cut if Congress does not take action this week.
Over the last year, Jubilee USA worked with Congress and federal agencies to secure more than $45 billion in rebuilding aid for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The religious development group worked closely with Republican and Democratic leadership to secure "better building" provisions so that Puerto Rico can rebuild to withstand future storms. According to estimates from Puerto Rico's Governor and oversight board, another $80 billion is needed to fully fund recovery efforts.
"In the coming days and months, Congress needs to fully fund the rebuilding needs of Puerto Rico," stated LeCompte. "We need to see action from Congress that provides transparency disclosures so we know when creditors are advising debt negotiations. We also need to prevent creditors collecting hurricane relief monies."
Debt negotiations in Puerto Rico received recent scrutiny because a subsidiary of a firm who owns Puerto Rico debt is advising debt deals. Puerto Rico religious leaders and finance experts also raised concerns that debt holders are trying to collect hurricane relief monies.