As the Sun rose over the Capitol, Congress voted for a bipartisan spending package to end a brief government shutdown. The Senate and House approved nearly $90 billion dollars in recovery aid for Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Florida, Texas and California. The final legislation also includes nearly $5 billion dollars to increase Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico. Shortly after Congress passed the measure, the bill was signed into law by President Trump.
"âThe human suffering in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands continues, so I'm happy Republican and Democratic leadership could agree on disaster relief and healthcare funding for the poor," noted Jubilee USA Director, Eric LeCompte whose organization generated thousands of e-mails and phone calls to Congress ahead of the vote. "âThe work of Congress is not over yet. The aid package falls short of what the islands need and Congress will need to approve more disaster relief in the months ahead."
The spending bill includes more than $11 billion in recovery aid for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. More than $2 billion will be available to rebuild Puerto Rico's power grid. Moody's rating agency and the US Territory Governments estimate that more than $100 billion is needed to fully fund recovery and rebuilding efforts.
The law also includes money for Puerto Rico's Medicaid program that serves poor populations. Until Congress acted, Puerto Rico's Medicaid funding was weeks away from running out.
"We applaud Congress for moving forward the Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico," said LeCompte. "This program is critical for anti-poverty efforts and will generate billions of dollars for Puerto Rico's economy."
Religious leaders in Puerto Rico and across the United States have advocated for Medicaid financing with Congress and the White House for more than two years.