Religious Development Group Releases Statement
Washington DC - The House of Representatives delayed a vote on a $19.1 billion disaster bill that would aid Americans in a number of US States and Territories. After the disaster supplemental passed the Senate on Thursday, the House attempted a voice vote which requires "unanimous consent." Texas Representative Chip Roy blocked the vote. The full House won't vote until June, when Members of Congress return from recess. The legislation, expected to be signed into law by the White House, includes nearly $1 billion in funds for Puerto Rico and expedites the release of $8.9 billion already approved for Puerto Rico disaster relief.
Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of Jubilee USA, a religious development organization, releases the following statement:
"The House of Representatives must follow the Senate and pass disaster relief for millions of suffering Americans.
"More than a million Americans in Puerto Rico lost disaster food assistance in March and they are still waiting for that aid to be restored."
Washington, DC - On Thursday, the Senate passed a $19.1 billion disaster relief plan to aid Americans recovering from natural disasters in US Territories like Puerto Rico and States including Iowa. The House of Representatives and the White House are expected to approve the Senate plan.
"Millions of Americans are suffering and this disaster relief plan is urgently needed. We applaud Senate leaders and the White House for agreeing on a disaster deal," noted Eric LeCompte who leads the religious development group Jubilee USA. "In Puerto Rico alone, more than a million Americans lost disaster food assistance in March and that aid is finally restored."
The $19 billion disaster package includes nearly a billion dollars of disaster aid for Puerto Rico. The Senate package includes $600 million in disaster food assistance for more than 1.3 million people in Puerto Rico. Another $300 million will support housing rebuilding funds for Puerto Rico. The agreement expedites allocation of $8.9 billion in monies Congress already passed for Puerto Rico. Less than $15 billion of the $50 billion Congress approved for Puerto Rico reached the island to date.
The disaster package aids Americans in a number of US States and Territories recovering from hurricanes, floods, wildfires and other natural disasters. Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, California, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Kansas will benefit from the package.
Washington DC - On Friday, the House of Representatives passed disaster relief legislation to benefit US States, Territories and municipalities recovering from wildfires, floods and hurricanes. Senate legislation remains on hold as the White House and Senate debate the need for disaster funding to be included for Puerto Rico in a Senate package.
"The Senate needs to stop debating relief aid for Puerto Rico and pass a disaster package that ensures all Americans, no matter where they live, can access needed recovery funds," noted Eric LeCompte who leads the religious development group Jubilee USA. "Republicans and Democrats joined together in the House to pass disaster aid for all Americans and now the Senate needs to follow the House's example."
The House disaster package passed 257-150 and included support from thirty-four Republicans who broke ranks with the President and voted for the aid bill. More than $19 billion dollars is included in the House legislation to benefit Americans suffering from natural disasters or impacted by the US-China trade war.
"The political games in the Senate need to stop and the recovery aid needs to be delivered," said LeCompte. "While the Senate debates aid, US citizens from California to Puerto Rico are suffering."
Before Hurricanes Maria and Irma decimated Puerto Rico in 2017, the island was dealing with a $72 billion debt crisis. Last week, Puerto Rico's federally installed oversight board filed a court petition to declare $9 billion in debt "unconstitutional" or debt that should not be paid because it is not legitimate.
Jubilee USA was recently featured by The National Catholic Reporter on Jubilee's efforts in Puerto Rico's debt and humanitarian crisis as well as Jubilee's partnership with religious leaders on the island. Read an excerpt below and follow this link to the full article.
The suffering of Puerto Rican people continues to mount
May 8 would have been my mother's 91st birthday. I visited her grave and said a prayer. The day also marked another anniversary: It was the 20th anniversary of the installation of Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez as the Archbishop of San Juan. Gonzalez has, along with Fr. Heriberto Martinez, been at the forefront of the fight for debt relief for the island. They have been assisted most ably by Eric LeCompte and the good people at Jubilee USA. LeCompte knows more about public debt in poor countries than anyone I know, and what is more, he knows how to build a consensus on Capitol Hill for action to relieve debt burdens. He is one of the angels in the public policy world. Congratulations to Gonzalez on his anniversary and, even more, to the Catholic people of San Juan who have such a courageous spiritual leader.
Today on Capitol Hill, Jubilee USA is joining national partners to move urgent disaster aid and relief for Puerto Rico and numerous US States and Territories.
Working with the Hispanic Federation, Feeding America, American Farm Bureau Federation, Corporación ENLACE del Caño Martín Peña, Coalition on Human Needs, Oxfam America, Sierra Club, Bread for the World and Coalition for Food Security - in Puerto Rico, we are urging Congress to pass a full disaster package right away.
Jubilee USA members, congregations and faith communities have generated tens of thousands of messages to Congress. Together, we've won $50 billion in relief aid for Puerto Rico, we've moved forward a debt relief process and united Republicans and Democrats to agree that Puerto Rico needs to rebuild to withstand future storms.
Washington DC - On Sunday, former Indiana Senator Richard Lugar (R) died. Lugar sponsored and led Jubilee USA legislation and efforts on debt relief, anti-corruption, preventing financial crisis, tax evasion and the Jubilee Act on responsible lending and borrowing.
Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA, releases the following statement on Senator Lugar:
"Senator Lugar was a bridge builder and defender of the vulnerable.
"Lugar was a leader of legislation to prevent financial crisis, provide debt relief for poor countries and make our financial system more responsible and transparent.
"Currently in Congress we face such polarization and so many divides. In Washington DC, we need his kind of leadership again."
Religious Development Group Calls for Debt and Disaster Relief
Washington DC - Category-4 Cyclone Kenneth hit Mozambique Thursday night, the second severe storm to hit the country in six weeks. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 30,000 people were evacuated because of Cyclone Kenneth and another 70,000 people are still in harm's way. The hurricane-strength storm is predicted to drop twice as much rainfall as Cyclone Idai, which devastated the East African nation in March. Mozambique is still recovering from Cyclone Idai and the International Monetary Fund loaned $118.2 million for Idai rebuilding efforts.
"It's time to move away from loans for Mozambique and start the process of debt relief," said United Nations debt expert Eric LeCompte who heads the religious development group Jubilee USA. "This cyclone was the first major storm to hit Mozambique with hurricane strength in 60 years and as one of the poorest countries in the world, they don't have the resources to respond."
The United Nations Development Programme ranks Mozambique as the 9th least developed country in the world out of 189 ranked countries. On March 14th and 15th Cyclone Idai made landfall, killing over 700 people and causing an estimated $2 billion in damage.
In 2016 the IMF stopped financing Mozambique after over $1 billion in secret loans were discovered to outfit fishing boats into military crafts.
"Debt relief is an effective form of disaster aid and must be an important part of Mozambique's recovery," said LeCompte.