Trump praises disaster aid bill including Puerto Rico SNAP benefits | TheFencePost.com

Trump praises disaster aid bill including Puerto Rico SNAP benefits

Elizabeth Wolkomir

President Donald Trump praised the Senate late Tuesday for passing the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act of 2017.

The Senate passed the $36.5 billion bill by a vote of 82 to 17. The bill had earlier passed the House.

The statement of the White House press secretary noted that the bill "included the president's funding request to provide critical relief from the recent natural disasters that have impacted millions of Americans across our country. The president remains steadfast in his commitment to providing the resources necessary to recover from the hurricanes and wildfires. This funding will help the millions of Americans living in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other affected areas rebuild their lives. Further, as previously stated, the administration urges Congress to adopt reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program to ensure the program's long-term financial viability, and looks forward to working with Congress to achieve that goal."

In a statement urging passage of the bill, Elizabeth Wolkomir, a policy analyst for the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities, noted that the bill includes a provision to support food assistance activities in Puerto Rico by giving Puerto Rico access to up to $1.27 billion from the SNAP contingency reserve.

Wolkomir said inclusion of the provision was "vital" because Puerto Rico's Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP) is a capped block grant that lacks the special disaster authority that allows SNAP to temporarily expand in other states and territories during presidentially declared disasters.

Wolkomir noted, "While NAP operates similarly to SNAP during non-disaster times, capped annual funding effectively imposes NAP income limits and benefit levels that are well below those in the SNAP program. Unlike NAP, SNAP is available to any household that qualifies under the program's rules. Therefore, also unlike SNAP, NAP is ill-equipped to respond to spikes in need that a natural disaster causes."