US House passes bill for Puerto Rico’s inclusion in SSI program
By John McPhaul
Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón announced late last week that Puerto Rico made “a great step forward” with the approval in the U.S. House of Representatives of HR 5376, for the inclusion of Puerto Rico in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program as part of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better proposal.
The resident commissioner promoted the application of the SSI in Puerto Rico by legislative means with the filing of House Resolution (HR) 3226, HR 947 and HR 537, in view of the House and Senate.
González Colón has sent letters to the White House advocating for the extension of the program to Puerto Rico and has called on President Biden to fulfill his campaign promises with U.S citizens residing in Puerto Rico.
In federal courts, she has filed a friend of the court appeal at all stages of the process.
The Congressional Research Service has stated that it believes that no parliamentary problems exist that prevent the inclusion of SSI in the measure.
González Colón said Build Back Better seeks to invest $1.75 trillion in federal funds focused on environmental protection and socioeconomic development, which include other benefit provisions for the island that the resident commissioner has been promoting in addition to Supplemental Security Income.
The measure also seeks to maintain the federal match to Medicaid funds, at 76 percent and then increase it for the next fiscal year to 83 percent, and allocates $3.6 billion a year for Medicaid, which ensures access to the Vital Plan for more than 1.5 million island residents.
Meanwhile, the increase in the payment of the Child Tax Credit approved for the states for fiscal year 2022 from $3,000 to $3,600 (if less than 6 years old) is extended to the island.
Also, paid leave is established for employees of the private sector and federal, state and local government, and for self-employed workers, which will be under the Social Security Administration.
The leave expands the definition of family and eligible situations under the Family and Medical Leave Act. It will be effective in 2024.