Tuesday, March 21, 2023

U.S. Rep. Grijalva Lauds Education Dept. for Releasing $4 Billion for Puerto Rico

By on June 29, 2021

U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (Screen capture of https://naturalresources.house.gov/)

Chairman of Committee that Oversees Territories: Trump Admin Had No Good Reason to Put it Off

SAN JUAN – Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees U.S. territories, welcomed the U.S. Department of Education’s release of nearly $4 billion in funds for Puerto Rico’s schools, a move announced as part of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona’s visit to the island this week.

The announcement comes after Grijalva and Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.) of the House Committee on Education and Labor sent a letter on July 16, 2020, to former Secretary Betsy DeVos demanding an explanation for why the Department had delayed distributing $662 million in congressionally approved emergency educational relief for Puerto Rico, and after Grijalva sent a letter in December of 2020 urging the then-incoming Biden administration to expand high-quality public education on the island.

The newly announced funds include:

  • $2 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act;
  • $1.2 billion from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSA); and
  • $662 million in previously undisbursed fiscal year 2020 program grants.

“This is a welcome and overdue development that the Trump administration had no good reason to put off,” Grijalva said. “Earthquakes and hurricanes have done serious damage to Puerto Rico’s educational infrastructure and students are still struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. The people of Puerto Rico urgently need these federal resources to get through this difficult period and rebuild. I look forward to continuing work with the Biden administration to improve quality of life for the people of Puerto Rico and the other insular territories.”

The funds represent all of the remaining funding that had previously not been available to Puerto Rico, including both pandemic relief funds and annual program grants. The Education Department said it worked in partnership with Puerto Rico to put in place enhanced oversight and accountability measures to ensure that the resources result in impactful programs for the students of the commonwealth and are spent in compliance with the applicable laws and other requirements. 

The local Education Department recently finalized the agreement with its selected third-party fiduciary agent (TPFA).

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