U.S. House committee to hold hearings on Puerto Rico’s status, access to federal funding
Grijalva applauds Biden administration for releasing recovery funds
SAN JUAN – The chairman of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), praised the administration of President Joe Biden’s “swift release” of $1.3 billion in Community Development Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help Puerto Rico rebuild infrastructure destroyed by Hurricane Maria and the removal of restrictions on another $4.9 billion established by the Trump administration.
Grijalva also said his committee plans to hold a hearing “this spring” on the impacts of territories’ “unequal access to federal resources” and a separate hearing on the pace of reconstruction in Puerto Rico.
“The Trump administration’s disregard for the residents of Puerto Rico made far too many Americans vulnerable and led to a serious population decline on the island,” Grijalva said in his statement. “The Biden administration recognizes that ending this cycle is a national priority and a fundamental question of justice. Removing restrictions and releasing federal disaster aid for infrastructure, economic development, and capacity building for NGOs and municipalities on the island is the right thing to do. My colleagues and I will ensure that funds appropriated by Congress are used to build new housing and a more resilient energy grid and help vulnerable communities across Puerto Rico.”
According to the committee’s media release, its Office of Insular Affairs agenda for the 117th Congress includes advancing climate change legislation to address the planning, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience challenges of U.S. Territories and Freely Associated States; holding hearings on, and working to resolve, Puerto Rico’s political status; and addressing the lack of voting rights and unequal access to existing federal programs suffered by residents of U.S. Territories.
See this week’s issue of Caribbean Business for more about the Biden administration’s disbursement.