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Resident commissioner: Push for transition to SNAP will be tougher in new Congress


Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón


By THE STAR STAFF


The current composition of the U.S. Congress will complicate moving Puerto Rico to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from the Nutrition Assistance Program, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón said over the weekend.


The 118th Congress, which convened last week, had Democrats retaining control of the Senate and Republicans assuming the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives by a slim margin.


“It is a complicated path, but Medicaid was more complicated because the Republicans have always been against it,” González Colón after leaving the convention of the United States Federation of Farm Offices. “We achieved an agreement two years ago that was approved unanimously in a committee [but] that was never brought to the House’s plenary session for other reasons. That same agreement was the one that we approved for Medicaid now. So I think that was the most difficult. Nevertheless, I think this SNAP thing is going to happen. We have various allies and organizations [in support of Puerto Rico’s transition to SNAP].”


“This is something that, obviously, has to be put into an effort both in the House and the Senate in both areas,” she added.


The resident commissioner said there are several issues on the agenda pending approval.

Congress has yet to approve legislation seeking to change the U.S. territory’s status through a federally binding plebiscite. Lawmakers must also approve the extension of the rum tax and a bill that would exempt Puerto Rico from the air cabotage laws. The exemption would require an amendment to the Stevens Act, allowing a cargo flight from a foreign carrier to stop in Puerto Rico, transfer or consolidate cargo with domestic or other foreign carriers and continue to other U.S. airports.


Puerto Rico received a two-year exemption but only at an administrative level.


González Colón said she also wants Puerto Rico to obtain more funding to fight drug trafficking.


“For us, it is important,” she said. “We will also see more immigration of people coming to Puerto Rico. So this is an area that we have to guard on our shores.”


The resident commissioner also wants Puerto Rico and the United States to not depend on China for the manufacture of pharmaceutical products.

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