WASHINGTON, D.C.—Nonprofit organization and parity advocate Equally American has urged the House Committee on Ways and Means in the U.S. House of Representatives to urge their support for including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa in the Supplemental Security Income program.
In a letter to Equally American wrote to committee chair Richard E. Neal (D-Massachusetts) and ranking member Kevin Brady (R-Texas) last Friday, Equally American president Neil Weare said the current situation with the Supplemental Security Income program “is not just unfair and discriminatory, it is unconstitutional.”
He said the SSI program “is a crucial lifeline for disabled, blind, and low-income adults and children throughout the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands, [yet] otherwise eligible Americans living in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa are arbitrarily excluded from accessing SSI benefits.
“As the First Circuit recently held, there is no rational basis for categorically excluding otherwise eligible Americans from the SSI program simply because they live in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, or American Samoa,” Weare added. “But Congress should not wait for the Supreme Court to affirm the First Circuit’s opinion.”
“[Rep] Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico) has proposed a bill to include Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa in the SSI program,” Weare pointed out. “Equally American applauds her bipartisan leadership alongside her colleagues from each of the territories and urges Congress to enact this crucial legislation as soon as possible. Lives literally depend on it,” Weare said.
Equally American is a nonpartisan public interest organization that works to advance equality and voting rights in U.S. territories. (PR)