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Lowey Statement to Rules Committee on Puerto Rico Earthquake Supplemental

WASHINGTON — House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey today delivered the following remarks to the House Rules Committee in support of an appropriate rule for the House to consider H.R. 5687, an emergency supplemental appropriations bill to provide support to Puerto Rico following a series of recent earthquakes:

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Cole, and Members of the Rules Committee:

In recent weeks, thousands of families in Puerto Rico were forced from their homes, schools were flattened, and roads and infrastructure were severely damaged as earthquakes wracked an island still struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

While President Trump has finally released some of the aid Congress appropriated for those hurricanes, more support is clearly needed. We must act now on our shared responsibility to assist Americans in need.

The emergency supplemental before you would provide $4.67 billion in targeted assistance to help families and communities recover from these devastating earthquakes and puts Puerto Rico on a better path to long-term recovery. It includes:

  • $3.26 billion in Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds;
  • $1.25 billion for repairs to damaged road systems;
  • $100 million to restart school operations;
  • $40 million for disaster nutrition assistance in Puerto Rico; and
  • More than $20 million to help address the island’s energy needs.

In addition, this bill would provide Puerto Rico with flexibility to use this funding in conjunction with earlier disaster relief resources.

Critically, it also establishes safeguards designed to address the Trump administration’s outrageous withholding of vital aid to Puerto Rico. This includes requiring detailed spending plans and mandating funding be released in a timely manner.

Finally, we are carrying a number of tax-related provisions in the jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means that would complement the emergency appropriations and support working families and encourage economic growth.

Mr. Chairman, our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico need our help. With this bill, we can provide families and communities swift relief and put Puerto Rico on the path to long-term recovery.

I request an appropriate rule to bring this emergency supplemental to the Floor.

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