Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Democratic relief bill could be a tool to negotiate with Republicans, resident commissioner says

By on May 13, 2020

Would provide territorial governments $40 billion to help prevent layoffs, cuts to services or tax hikes

LA FORTALEZA – Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón regretted Tuesday that the Covid-19 relief bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, of more $3 trillion for state and local governments, the system health, as well as a second round of stimulus checks, does not have much chance of being passed by the Senate.

“Unfortunately, that measure was introduced without the consensus of the Republican side in the House and Senate, so…there is opposition from the president (Donald Trump),” González Colón said at a press conference.

“However, there are some elements in this bill that are good for Puerto Rico, such as Nutritional Assistance funds that both the governor and I have requested. We had requested the exclusion of Puerto Rico from the Buy American Act regulations. We requested federal funds for roads that are included there. So, some of the things that are included in that bill, obviously I will support them, no matter where they come from,” the congresswoman added.

She said the proposal will serve more as an opening for bipartisan negotiations on how to provide more aid.

“We are going to try to include them in any package that is being worked on in a bipartisan way,” said González Colón, who added that there are already two bills “in that direction.”

“It means that there will be additional aid measures and that they will continue to change as work resumes,” she said.

She mentioned there will be a voting session on one of these measures Friday, “but there is still a long way to go for consensus.”

Reportedly, the 1,800-page bill, which could be passed by the House on Friday, would dedicate nearly $100 billion to state, local, territorial and tribal governments and establish a “Heroes Fund” for $200 billion to extend hazard pay supplement to essential workers.

It would also send a second, and much more extensive, round of direct payments of $1,200 per family member, or up to $6,000 per household.

The proposal would also increase nutritional assistance benefits by 15 percent and provide $175 billion in housing assistance, among other things.

The weekly $600 increase in unemployment benefits would run through January instead of ending in July, and the bill directs another $75 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing.

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