Senate Passes Puerto Rico Nutritional Assistance in Farm Bill

Puerto Rico Housing Assistance Fails in Senate

The US Senate voted for Puerto Rico disaster relief in the form of food assistance with the passage of the "Farm Bill." The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 included Senators Marco Rubio and Kirsten Gillibrand's amendment to fund Puerto Rico's Nutritional Assistance Program.

“More than 700,000 people in Puerto Rico will benefit from the amendment from Senators Rubio and Gillibrand in the Farm Bill," noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA. LeCompte's organization lobbied Congress on the amendment and issued an action alert to secure support for the amendment. “The hurricanes pushed more than half of the island's people into poverty. The food assistance passed in the Senate is urgently needed."

Senators Rubio and Gillibrand introduced the nutritional assistance amendment to the Farm Bill that allows up to $635 million to be spent on Puerto Rico's version of SNAP or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

A bill proposed by Senator Bill Nelson of Florida to extend FEMA housing assistance was blocked in the Senate ahead of Thursday's Farm Bill vote. Nelson's Disaster Housing Assistance Act, S2880, sought to establish a pilot program for long-term rental assistance for families affected by natural disasters. FEMA housing assistance will end tomorrowJune 30.

"US citizens continue to suffer across Puerto Rico. The hurricanes ravaged an island already suffering from a severe debt crisis," said LeCompte. "Congress needs to stop petty debates and get relief aid as quickly as possible to the people suffering on the island."

The House passed their version of the agriculture bill last week. A Senate and House conference committee will reconcile the differences between the two bills before it heads to President Trump's desk.

Read Jubilee USA's Puerto Rico Farm Bill Action Alert