U.S. Congress passes $19.1 billion disaster relief bill for states, territories
If enacted, would provide $1.4 billion and quicken $8.9 billion disbursement for Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN – The U.S. House of Representatives voted Monday evening to pass a long-stalled disaster bill for states and territories recovering from disasters.
The Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act is a bipartisan and bicameral agreement that combines $19.1 billion for disaster relief, including $1.4 billion for Puerto Rico.
The legislation includes more than $900 million for Puerto Rico recovery from 2017’s Hurricane Maria, including $600 million in emergency disaster food assistance. The package also expedites the release of $8.9 billion already approved by Congress for Puerto Rico disaster relief.
Provisions included in the bill, according to a release:
- Study of Puerto Rico disaster nutrition assistance — $5 million for a study of the disaster nutrition assistance provided to the Commonwealth in 2017.
- Clarifies the intent of public law 115-123, which waived the prior condition limitation for Public Assistance grants for certain disasters affecting Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in order to expedite reconstruction and strengthen the resiliency of critical services against future disasters. This provision will provide approximately $500 million in assistance for Puerto Rico.
- Community Development Block Grants-Disaster Recovery — $2.431 billion. When combined with $1.68 billion of CDBG-DR funding in the FAA reauthorization, there will be a total of $3.89 billion in resources for 2018 and 2019 disasters, of which more than $1 billion is available for resiliency and mitigation activities. Of the total, $431 million is for unmet needs from 2017 disasters, including $331 million for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
President Trump has committed to enacting the disaster legislation.