At Last, Congress Passes Badly Needed Disaster Relief Package
“At long last, Congress has finally passed the $19.1 billion supplemental spending bill that will provide urgently needed aid to people struggling to recover from devastating hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters. The delays in passing this bill were unconscionable; they meant that families were homeless, children were hungry, and moms and kids struggled without clean water and health care for much longer than was necessary. We urge President Trump to sign the supplemental spending bill without delay.
“We applaud congressional leaders for refusing to include the funds the White House requested for the southern border in this package – but it should have been passed months ago. Congress also should have swiftly rejected President Trump’s petty, baseless opposition to the urgently needed aid for Puerto Rico that this package includes.
“This aid package includes more funds for Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP), which ran out of money in March. The delay in additional NAP funds has meant that Puerto Rican families who are already struggling with food insecurity had to go without vital nutrition assistance. This is further evidence that NAP, and the block grant it is built on, is a failed program for Puerto Rico and should be updated. Its capped annual funding is inadequate to meet the basic food needs of low-income Puerto Rican citizens under normal circumstances, and the program does not expand automatically when disasters occur and needs grow. That’s especially troubling for Puerto Rico, where even before the 2017 hurricanes more than 1 million people had income below the poverty line, including more than half (56 percent) of families with children. Lawmakers should restructure NAP so that it operates like SNAP but, for now, Puerto Rico needs the additional emergency funding to prevent more of its people from going without enough to eat.
“Our country’s moms demand a return to the days when lawmakers refused to politicize or hold hostage the disaster aid that taxpayers need and deserve after crises. Never again should American citizens who have survived massive disasters have to wait this long for relief.”