Congress passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that includes Puerto Rico anti-poverty measures and $900 million of increased food aid through the Nutrition Assistance Program. The US territory suffers from a nearly 60% child poverty rate and the coronavirus rescue package funds Puerto Rico's child tax credit benefiting 355,000 low-income families.
“Devastated by the pandemic, debt crisis, high child poverty rates and natural disasters, Puerto Rico needs the stimulus package aid,” said Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of religious development group Jubilee USA Network.
The legislation expands the Earned Income Tax Credit for poor working families on the island.
Last month, 20 US and Puerto Rico religious leaders sent a letter to Congress and President Biden urging that stimulus packages include job creation, disaster relief, food assistance and the anti-poverty tax measures for the territory.
“Beyond the stimulus aid, Puerto Rico needs more disaster relief,” stated LeCompte. "The Department of Justice can unblock more than $2 billion in disability aid for the island."
Under the Trump Administration, the Department of Justice (DOJ) appealed to the Supreme Court to block a lower court ruling that approved $2.3 billion in annual Supplemental Security Income disability payments for 300,000 people in Puerto Rico. The religious leader letter requested that the Biden Administration instruct the DOJ to withdraw the case to allow the disability aid to reach the island.
Read the Puerto Rico letter to President Biden and the 20 Puerto Rico and US religious leaders signers in English and Spanish here.