Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee about Puerto Rico’s priorities in fiscal year 2021.
The U.S. government’s fiscal year begins on October 1st. The budget each year is built on information gathered from leaders such as Gonzalez-Colon.
The Trump administration has proposed $1.9 million for the Nutrition Assistance Program in Puerto Rico, the equivalent of SNAP in the States. The funding was $2.523 billion in 2019, but the new budget proposal, “A Budget for America’s Future,” cuts this figure significantly.
Not only could this cut affect the large number of children living in poverty in Puerto Rico, particularly in light of the pandemic, but also the industries that supply food on the Island.
Support of manufacturing
Gonzalez-Colon requested “as a matter of national security” that the Defense Production Law be used to expand the production of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies on the Island.
“Our island has the capacity, infrastructure and manpower to play a leading role in the efforts of the United States to secure the national supply chain for medical products,” said González Colón.
Gonzalez-Colon was joined by Representatives Donna Shalala (D-FL), Rob Bishop (R-UT), Darren Soto (D-FL), Rubén Gallego (D-AZ) and Peter King (R-NY), in her recent introduction of HR 6443, the ”2020 National Supply Chain Secure Act,” with the same goal.
Security issues also included the cost of transitioning the Puerto Rico Coast Guard to a type of helicopter more suited to working against the drug trade in the Caribbean, and other funds for crime prevention.
Other requests were for National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program and Civil Air Patrol.
Gonzalez-Colon asked the Committee not to close the International Institute of Tropical Forestry. The Institute, which is headquartered in Puerto Rico, was founded in 1939. Recent research has focused on the new plants growing in El Yunque since the devastation of Hurricane Maria, as well as the effects of the recent Sahara Dust Plume.
The Forestry office is considering closing the Institute.
Gonzalez-Colon also reiterated the need for funding to compete the clean-up of Vieques and Culebra, as well as other environmental projects.
The House Appropriations Committee is currently reviewing broad proposals to fund the government after October 1 as it works toward the creation of the next fiscal year’s budget.