Hispanic Federation Applauds Senate Bipartisanship for Passage of Long-Stalled Disaster Aid Bill

NEW YORK, NY — Hispanic Federation applauds the passage in the Senate of a long-overdue disaster relief bill that provides $19.1 billion in aid to parts of the Southeast, Midwest, California, and territories, including Puerto Rico, that are still recovering from severe climate-related natural disasters. The bill, which has been stalled for months because the President opposed additional disaster funding for Puerto Rico, and was nearly derailed because of his request to include billions in border funding in the package, includes $600 million in emergency, short-term funding for Puerto Rico’s food stamp program, and more than $300 million to help rebuild infrastructure on the island, while leaving out Trump’s request.

“Millions of American families have been held hostage and their needs largely neglected because of President Trump’s unconscionable reluctance to provide aid to Puerto Rico. Today, the U.S. Senate finally took action to help the hundreds of communities that have been devastated by natural disasters across the country and are still struggling to rebuild by passing the comprehensive disaster aid bill,” said José Calderón, president of Hispanic Federation. “This bill will help families from Texas to the Carolinas and Puerto Rico meet the basic needs they struggle with daily, including access to safe housing, basic health care, jobs, and water. Natural disasters in the past two years have cost the U.S. as much as $390 billion in economic losses. It’s about time the federal government put their differences and personal biases aside to help our economies and families rebuild and prosper.”

As recently as May 6th, President Trump falsely accused Puerto Rico of being given more money by Congress for hurricane disaster relief than any other state in U.S. history. While Congress appropriated nearly $20 billion in Community Development Block Grant funding to Puerto Rico last year, the island has only accessed a mere 7 percent of those funds. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has also delayed drafting new regulations that are required for Puerto Rico to receive $8.3 billion to help mitigate future disasters, leaving many of the island’s residents with minimal resources to prepare for another natural disaster like Hurricane Maria.

“For months, Hispanic Federation has been working behind the scenes to reach a deal with lawmakers that is not only fair to Puerto Rico, but also to the hundreds of communities across the country whose recovery efforts have been stalled by the White House,” added Calderón. “While this aid will help with post-Hurricane Maria recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, it still falls billions of dollars short of what is needed to truly help the island rebuild from the deadliest natural disaster to ever hit U.S. soil, resulting in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people. Unlike the House version of the bill, it also does not include funding for Caño Martin Peña, a four-mile long waterway in Puerto Rico that has become overridden with bacteria following the devastation of Hurricane Maria. We look to Congress to move this forward to the President’s desk so that the people of Puerto Rico, and other disaster-stricken areas, get the help they need to rebuild and are treated equitably.”