Puerto Rico earthquake supplemental under discussion in House

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fairly difficult
After months of delay, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has agreed to let Puerto Rico gain access to nearly $8.3 billion in disaster aid.
A Puerto Rican flag waves on top of a pile of rubble as debris is removed from a main road in Guanica, P.R., on Jan. 8, one day after an earthquake hit the island. (Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images)

Updated 4:39 p.m. House Appropriations Democrats are looking at a possible emergency spending package to provide additional aid to Puerto Rico following a series of earthquakes since late last year, including a 5.2 magnitude quake Wednesday.

Several Democrats said they support the idea, which has been discussed in various meetings, but no final decision has been made.

"This is a high priority and a major priority, I think, for us," said Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., a senior member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. "It is for me as a member, and I know on the Appropriations Committee."

"I know we're considering it and I think we need to consider it," said Transportation-HUD Subcommittee Chairman David E. Price, D-N.C., whose panel oversees the Community Development Block Grant program and the billions of dollars it regularly doles out for long-term disaster relief needs.

Rosa DeLauro, who chairs the Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee, said the administration should ask for a supplemental. She does not know if it is under consideration at the White House.

The Connecticut Democrat said when she visited Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017, "the needs were unbelievable," and that was before the recent earthquakes. A 6.4 magnitude quake hit southern Puerto Rico on Jan. 7, killing one person, and a 5.9 magnitude aftershock hit on Saturday, according to local reports. More than 250,000 residents lacked access to water and another 500,000 didn't have power as of Wednesday, reports said.

Price said Puerto Rico is receiving sufficient funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency but that additional aid might be needed

"The longer-term issue of whether there might be some CDBG money, for example, or some money for…
David Lerman
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