Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González announced that the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives approved an investigation into the collapse of the Arecibo Observatory within its budget proposals.
Under the Commerce, Justice and Science subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, the commissioner was able to incorporate legislative language that she worked with Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida, where the Committee recognizes the scientific contributions of the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope and requires that the National Foundation for Science (NSF) update Congress on cleanup efforts, preservation, and evaluation of its collapse.
"I am pleased that the Committee included in the budget proposal a report on the collapse of the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope, an invaluable instrument for the scientific community and for us in Puerto Rico," González said.
She added that “there are also priorities for the island included by the Committee that we are going to continue working for their final approval, such as funds for the NAP, language for evaluating the island's transition to SNAP, funds for repairs in the Yunque National Forest and continue promoting that the U.S. Geological Survey update the map of seismic risks on the island."
Under the Interior and Environment subcommittee, González managed to incorporate language to update on the use of funds that were assigned last fiscal year to the U.S. Geological Survey to update the seismic risk models and maps for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The commissioner sent a letter requesting language regarding the possible transition of Puerto Rico, the Mariana Islands, and American Samoa to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), something that she has advocated for since coming to Congress.
Public and private officials discuss the socioeconomic benefits of enhanced nutritional assistance
Similar language was incorporated by the Committee, where the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is directed to work on a plan that includes the estimated cost of including these territories under SNAP.
Funds for agencies related to agriculture, the interior and the environment suggested by the Committee and managed by the commissioner for Puerto Rico for fiscal year 2021:
- Agriculture: $2,070,349,000 for the Puerto Rico Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP). This is $32,373,000 more than what was allocated to the island for fiscal year 2021.
Also, $2 million for NIFA's Island Grants Program, $3 million for the Program for the Reimbursement of Transportation Costs for Farmers and Ranchers of Geographically Disadvantaged Areas, and $10 million for the Micro-Grants Program for Food Security.
- Interior and the Environment: $48,855 for the maintenance of the Yokahú Tower, and $47,411 for the restoration of the Historic Stonework of the El Yunque National Forest. Also, $850,000 to the International Institute of Tropical Forestry for the replacement of the roof of the Sabana River recreational area, plus $750,000 And $ 750,000 per estuary for the National Estuary Program, which includes the San Juan Bay Estuary Program, in Puerto Rico.