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How politics screwed Puerto Rico out of billions in disaster aid

On Wednesday night, as Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his tip lieutenants struggled to pass a disaster assist package — as good as a appropriation check to keep a supervision open — House Majority Whip Steve Scalise reached out to Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) with an offer: Would Democrats behind a disaster supplemental if Republicans combined billions in Medicaid appropriation for Puerto Rico?

At that point, Scalise and other GOP leaders were in a bind. They didn’t know if they could pass a disaster assist check given Texas and Florida lawmakers wanted some-more income for their states. Members from those delegations were melancholy to move down legislation to keep a supervision open, triggering a politically annoying shutdown for Republicans given they control a Congress and White House.

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In a end, Velazquez, who was innate in Puerto Rico and has been operative to get some-more sovereign appropriation for a island territory, incited down a offer. That preference has set off extreme narrow-minded finger-pointing, while denying hurricane-wracked Puerto Rico of during slightest $4.6 billion in additional income to yield Medicaid to bad residents, according to Republicans.

Democrats opposite that Republicans should have usually put a income in a check in a initial place yet all a domestic maneuvering.

They also wish that Senate Democrats can supplement some-more income for Puerto Rico into a package. The Senate will take adult a legislation when it earnings from a holiday mangle in January.

There’s no brawl Puerto Rico needs a money: Roughly 40 percent of a residents accept Medicaid, a sovereign medical module for a poor. Puerto Rico receives reduction in relating supports than mainland states to assistance cover Medicaid costs and island officials have warned there is a critical problem already, that was usually exacerbated by a new Hurricane Maria.

Medicaid programs in Puerto Rico might run out income in early 2018 yet an distillate of new dollars. The island’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, had asked for $8 billion over 5 years to assistance wand off a health crisis.

“The sum extinction brought on by these healthy disasters has vastly exacerbated a conditions and effectively brought a island’s health caring complement to a margin of collapse,” Rosselló pronounced in a new minute to President Donald Trump.

But Puerto Rican officials and Democrats explain Republicans are ignoring a territory’s problems.

The debate partly originated with a GOP taxation bill, that Republicans authorized this week and Trump sealed into law on Friday.

Velazquez, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats were angry that a rarely touted devise enclosed several supplies that could mistreat Puerto Rico’s economy, generally production operations there. The Republican taxation check treats Puerto Rico subsidiaries of American companies as if they are located in a unfamiliar country, that Velazquez claims could cost a island 200,000 jobs as it struggles to redeem from Maria.

As a supervision shutdown loomed, Scalise called Velazquez with a Medicaid offer, that enclosed a waiver of any relating grant for Medicaid appropriation by a Puerto Rican supervision for dual years. The offer was value during slightest $4.6 billion, Republicans said. Some Democrats secretly believed Velazquez should have taken a deal.

Scalise pronounced in a matter that he had been operative with Jenniffer González-Colón (R), Puerto Rico’s proprietor commissioner in Congress, to come adult with a plan. He criticized Democrats for not usurpation it.

“Jenniffer Gonzalez fought tough each step of a approach to get as most assistance for Puerto Rico as probable into this bill, and she was also successful in removing an agreement from Republican care to embody a full two-year [matching-contribution] waiver for Puerto Rico, yet House Democrats deserted that offer in a final hours of negotiations,” Scalise pronounced in a statement. “We were really unhappy in Democrat care for branch their backs on Puerto Rico.”

According to Democratic sources, Velazquez discussed a offer with Pelosi and other comparison Democrats before branch it down. Pelosi — who was against to a disaster supplemental yet incited her rank-and-file Democrats giveaway to opinion however they wanted on a package — did not tell Velazquez to reject a deal, pronounced a sources. Instead, Pelosi pronounced Velazquez contingency weigh a offer and confirm on her possess how to vote.

Velazquez countered Scalise’s offer by seeking Republicans to discharge a production taxation provision. She has also pulpy GOP leaders about altering a warranted income taxation credit and child taxation credit for Puerto Rican residents.

Democrats complained that a GOP offer was a asocial domestic ploy. Why didn’t GOP leaders usually put a additional supports into a check instead of seeking to buy Democratic votes with it?

A Velazquez help pronounced Republicans could have enclosed a Medicaid waiver sustenance for Puerto Rico on their possess and motionless not to do so.

“While a congresswoman doesn’t criticism on private conversations, it strains credit to advise she decides what Republican care puts in Republican spending bills,” pronounced Alex Haurek, Velazquez’s spokesman. “If Republicans wanted additional appropriation enclosed for Puerto Rico, it would have been.”

Pelosi’s bureau also slammed House Republicans, accusing them of enchanting in a “blame game” over Puerto Rico.

“According to this logic, Republicans screwed over their possess member [González-Colón] given they couldn’t buy Democratic votes,” pronounced Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s emissary arch of staff. “Republicans are in a majority. They wrote this bill, and to censure Democrats given they chose to leave out a sustenance their possess member begged for is usually ludicrous.”

Hammill added: “The Republican taxation fraud causes measureless repairs to a island, with hundreds of thousands of pursuit waste in Puerto Rico during a misfortune probable time. At a finish of a day, a Republican whip should demeanour in a counterpart instead of perplexing to play some sparse censure game.”

González-Colón’s mouthpiece was not accessible for criticism by a time this story published.

The House upheld a disaster assist package, 251-169. Sixty-nine Democrats corroborated a measure, yet Velazquez was not one of them.

With Senate Democrats observant they will not accept a House check as is — they wish to supplement some-more appropriation to a package, including presumably for Puerto Rico — final movement on a check will be behind for weeks.

Article source: https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/23/puerto-rico-disaster-aid-medicaid-315974