Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett announces Senate agreement on a two-year $400 billion budget deal
“This budget agreement has significant funding for the Virgin Islands as we begin to move from recovery to rebuilding. The increased funding along with 100% federal funding for Medicaid and recognition of resiliency needs will set us on the right path to a better Virgin Islands,” stated Congresswoman Plaskett.
Washington, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett released the following statement regarding the announcement of a new budget agreement that will provide much needed funding for infrastructure rebuilding, support for resilience in our electrical grid as well as housing among other things:
“After substantial negotiations between Democrats and Republicans, the Senate has agreed to a two year budget that includes spending on a variety of needs, which include disaster aid to respond to recent hurricanes. During the negotiations, I engaged with Senate leadership asking that the Senate fully and equitably incorporate the needs of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) in their budget agreements. I am pleased that the Senate has been able to increase the funds in the initial bill which came out of the House recently although it does not have everything that we have asked for.
“The Budget agreement includes the following:
· $23.5 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund for recovery, repairs and future mitigation;
· $28 billion in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) for housing, infrastructure repairs, economic revitalization, and other needs, including $12 billion for mitigation.
· This additional funding addresses the argument I have made for, and that our Islands have demonstrated the necessity to rebuild our electrical grids in a more resilient and energy efficient manner. It also addresses the need to be flexible in FEMA funding in order to build our grids and other critical infrastructure back better;
· $15 billion for Army Corps mitigation and resiliency projects;
· $4.9 billion in Medicaid funds for Puerto Rico and USVI and with the important provision of a 100% federal cost share for Medicaid.
“The bill has other provisions which in the coming years might prove helpful to our Island such as a Joint Select Committee on multi-employer pensions which may help our own government’s retirement crisis. We are analyzing the implications and exact dollar figures to the Virgin Islands, and to be clear, the bill does not address all of our needs and request. It is short of the overall request made by Governor Mapp and does not have a general cost share waiver. I am encouraged that the Senate budget agreement currently includes these provisions I have asked for as a matter of parity and fairness to Virgin Islanders recently impacted by two major hurricanes.”