(March 19th, 2020 – Washington, D.C.) Governor Vázquez Garced sent a letter to the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, and Congress Leadership urging them to include and treat Puerto Rico equal to the States in the forthcoming economic stimulus package currently being drafted in response to the Coronavirus COVID-19. The letter outlined several priorities of the Government to prepare and provide an effective, robust response to the global COVID-19 outbreak.
In the letter, the Governor requested the stimulus package include the language of H.R. 5687, the House passed emergency supplemental bill designed to provide Puerto Rico funding to address the seismic events that impacted the island beginning in December 2019. These ongoing earthquakes caused critical damage to infrastructure, roads, homes, and disruptions to essential services. The inclusion of this language, that provides over $4.89 billion in funding, would provide Puerto Rico aid to recover from the damage of the earthquakes. The Governor reiterated that while the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, it does not obviate Puerto Rico’s unmet needs from prior major disasters.
Additionally, the Governor of Puerto Rico requested a stimulus to the domestic supply chain for public health preparedness, pointing out that Puerto Rico can serve as a manufacturing base during these heightened times of concern for public health. The letter outlines several solutions for the Nation’s current acute and chronic pharmaceutical needs while urging inclusion of them in the next emergency supplemental. Furthermore, the Governor urged Puerto Rico to be included in tax provisions of national applicability as well as urging Congress to ensure any relief to the tourism industry is available to Puerto Rico Lastly, the Governor requested an increase in funding for Puerto Rico’s Nutritional Assistance Program (NAP) of an additional $1.27 billion. This federal funding would ensure food security during this global emergency of Coronavirus COVID-19 and provide assistance to small business and manufacturing sectors affected during this emergency in Puerto Rico.
“We urge President Trump and Members of Congress to include and treat Puerto Rico equal to the States during this global emergency. As Puerto Rico continues to experience this Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, our priority is to guarantee that the 3.2 million U.S. citizens who call the island home receive adequate resources and assistance during this global emergency,” said Jennifer M. Storipan, Esq. “Our commitment is to ensure the welfare, health, and safety of the people of Puerto Rico and we will continue to work with the Administration, Congress, and Federal Agencies to provide necessary information during this pandemic.”