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US House passes budget with multibillion-dollar allocation for Puerto Rico

By on February 9, 2018

SAN JUAN – Washington Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González celebrated the U.S. House of Representatives’s passage of the federal budget, which includes multibillion-dollar allocations to assist Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. President Trump has approved the budget legislation.

“We did it!!! Puerto Rico has its Medicaid money!!!, for its electric system and more than $16.5 billion in the bill we have just approved,” González wrote on her Twitter account, @Jenniffer2012.

The approval of the budget occurred in the pre-dawn hours Friday, stateside media reported. The vote was 240 in favor and 186 against. The legislation keeps the federal government running after it ran out of funding midnight Thursday and had been closed for more than five hours when the representatives voted. The Senate had passed the legislation with 70 votes in favor and 28 against.

The bill includes more than $6.8 billion for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of these, $4.8 billion are directed toward some 600,000 Medicaid beneficiaries in Puerto Rico, who were at risk of losing their coverage in April due to looming Medicaid cliff.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló also celebrated in his account in the aforementioned social network.

“The recovery bill was passed! Extraordinary moment! Teamwork with @Jenniffer2012 and all the collaborators. Press ahead! #PuertoRicoSeLevanta,” the governor tweeted.

Puerto Rico governor welcomes congressional disaster relief funding

González also warned those who may be interested in benefiting from the billions of dollars.

“To them, I say don’t dare try putting your hands [in the funding jar] because the people of Puerto Rico cannot afford having the federal investment faucet closed,” González warned in a WKAQ radio interview, adding that “all these funds are not only going to be processed by the local government, but also are under federal watch by the U.S. Inspector General.”

“We cannot make the mistakes of decades past. To those, I tell them to be aware that things have to be done with transparency. The governor is doing it with transparency. All these processes, the governor is making public, precisely to allow money to continue to come to Puerto Rico. Believe me, the first one who will be there to go after those people will be me because they don’t know how difficult it is to raise federal money for then [someone] to come and benefit. That won’t happen,” she added.

“I’m pleased. I’m happy. The achieved getting the work done. It was approved with 240 votes in favor and 186 votes against. It’s a bill that guarantees Puerto Rico more than $16 billion. I believe that the biggest achievement is getting $4.9 billion for Medicaid to eliminate the fiscal cliff we had coming in April this year; it’s the largest Medicaid allocation that does not require any state matching,” she stressed. “This isn’t the last allocation. We already have $5 billion that had been approved. This is a measure that was worked on…. I really believe that it’s a moment of celebration for all Puerto Ricans. Although much still remains, this make it the largest multibillion-dollar federal government allocation in recent decades for Puerto Rico.

She explained that the funds can be used to repair bridges, roads, homes, as well as for rebuilding and repairing the electrical grid, and that the funding for road repairs do not require the commonwealth to match them.

She also recognized U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who she said “was pushing the votes to the end…. This wouldn’t have been achieved without him in the House.” She also acknowledged that Rosselló “moved Democratic votes,” although most of the votes against the bill were from the party’s lawmakers. She also praised the work of Sen. Marco Rubio.

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