Rosselló wants Pence “to be a champion for Puerto Rico” in the US Senate
By María Soledad Dávila Calero on October 6, 2017
Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares wants the vice-president Mike Pence “to be a champion for Puerto Rico” when the Federal Senate prepares an “aid package” to help the island.
The governor argued he hopes the funding that Congress will send to the island will be comparable to other jurisdictions and he also wants to secure access to other federal programs including grants and federal loans.
“He [Pence] can articulate, like he has done in the past, that we are American citizens and we deserve the same treatment [as other American citizens], particularly in this emergency situation,” argued the governor.
One of the other areas that Rosselló hopes would be address in todays meeting is Medicaid parity. While he points out that the campaign to assure Medicaid parity started long before the hurricane season, Rosselló also argued that given the current crisis the issue becomes more pressing.
Earlier in the week, resident commissioner, Jennifer González, announced that the Energy and Commerce Committee of the federal lower chamber had approved a $1 billion allocation through the inclusion of Puerto Rico in the States Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). González argued that this funding could ensure that local government could avoid the looming financial cliff in Puerto Rico’s healthcare system that was predicted at the beginning of this year.
If the measure is approved in the lower chamber, Pence could oversee the process and possible speedy approval in the Senate as president of that body.
Another measure more urgent to be is the initial aid allocation. The governor had previously stated that the island would need an initial aid of $10 to $15 billion and González stated that the White House is asking Congress to send an initial aid of $12.77 billion.
Not all the help that governor wants from the vice-president is in the legislative branch, as Rosselló hopes, Pence could help advocate for a complete waver of the parity the funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Rosselló also wants access to grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. One such grant is the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), which would help with rebuild severely damaged housing on the island.
Ultimately, Rosselló Nevares argued that he doesn’t want a bail out for Puerto Rico and that the discussion in the federal arena should be about “the immediate considerations that Puerto Rico has and that we have access to other supplementary areas like the CDBG funds. Likewise, that [need to] have access to other federal programs for Puerto Rico, and access to loans from the federal government.”