Resident commissioner: $2.7 billion for PR in 2023 federal budget
By John McPhaul
Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón announced Wednesday that the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee approved provisions and financing of $2.678 billion for Puerto Rico within the federal budget for fiscal year 2023.
“It is expected that in the latter weeks of July, when the House is in session, the budget will go before the plenary session for consideration in the House and then to the Senate,” González Colón said in a written statement.
She said the funds, which total some $2,678,767,500, were submitted or defended by the commissioner during the budget evaluation process for federal agencies for fiscal year 2023 and are in addition to the $19.438 billion that the commissioner managed to obtain for specific community projects, as announced on July 5.
The funds approved by House Appropriations include:
* Over $2.6 billion in annual regular funds for the Puerto Rico Nutrition Assistance Program, known locally as PAN by its Spanish acronym, during fiscal year 2022, benefiting nearly 1.5 million participants.
* $24 million for the construction of a 1,400-member-capacity training building within the United States Army Reserve Center at Fort Buchanan.
* $14.5 million for repairs and maintenance of National Guard buildings at Camp Santiago.
* $3.763 million to replace the visitor center and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service headquarters in the Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge. Recently, the resident commissioner visited the refuge, whose administration building and visitor center were severely damaged by the earthquakes, so it will be completely demolished and a new facility rebuilt. The total cost of the project is $9 million, for which $5.24 million have already been secured in Emergency Supplemental Appropriations (fiscal year 2022), and the current item, for which the resident commissioner advocated before the Appropriations Committee, would be added to this fund.
* $2.39 million for the acquisition of 364 acres of land for El Yunque National Forest.
* $500,000 to the U.S. Geological Survey to continue efforts to update seismic hazard maps for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The resident commissioner had obtained the approval of an amendment in the past budget for such purposes.
* $365,000 in operations and maintenance funds for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, of which $209,000 is directed to the inspection of work completed in Puerto Rico, $106,000 for surveys of the conditions of the projects and $50,000 for the Bay of San Juan.