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Mapp Says Puerto Rico And The Virgin Islands Will Share $4.9 Billion In Congressional Disaster Relief Funds

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CHARLOTTE AMALIE –– The U.S. Senate completed action Tuesday afternoon on a $36.5 billion supplemental disaster recovery spending bill, which includes $4.9 billion for emergency operating loans for the governments of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Gov. Kenneth Mapp announced.

The bill, which passed the Senate on a vote of 80-19, now goes to President Donald Trump for his expected signature.

Mapp said his administration has been working with officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the last several weeks on an emergency Community Disaster Loan, in anticipation of the Congressional action, to cover the territory’s operating expenses in the aftermath of the devastation by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The supplemental spending bill includes a waiver requested by Mapp which eliminates the statutory $5 million cap on the CDL loan amount. The purpose of the loan is to cover all disaster-related revenue losses for the local government and to avoid disruption of essential public services.

The supplemental appropriations legislation also includes a total of $18.7 billion to refill FEMA’s coffers and to fund immediate FEMA disaster response costs.

In a letter to Mapp, U.S. Office of Management Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney said that the supplemental bills contained funds for the most pressing emergency and recovery needs. Mulvaney said long-term recovery needs of the Virgin Islands and other affected jurisdictions would be addressed in later spending legislation.

Mapp praised the Senate action, commending Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for taking up the bill quickly after the House of Representatives acted to approve the bill. “The swift Congressional action reflects Congress’s recognition of the unprecedented nature and scope of the disaster, as well as Congress’s willingness to assist their fellow Americans at a time of great need,” the Territory’s Chief Executive said.

Governor Mapp also announced he would be traveling to Washington, DC early next month to testify in support of additional federal assistance for the Virgin Islands in hearings planned by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the Chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee which has jurisdiction over the U.S. territories.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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