Disaster relief bill now law

Posted on Jun 21 2019

The CNMI is set to receive more federal disaster aid after President Donald J. Trump signed H.R. 268 yesterday, allocating a total of $19 billion for states and U.S. territories that were recently hit by natural disasters.

H.R. 268, introduced by Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a 354-58 margin and went to the White House after an 85-5 vote, despite attempts by several Republicans to block the legislation due to immigration issues.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres thanked Trump for continuously assisting the CNMI with its recovery efforts after two devastating storms hit the Commonwealth in a span of almost two months.

Rota was hit by Typhoon Mangkhut, while Super Typhoon Yutu left significant damage on Saipan and Tinian, with both islands still trying to pick up the pieces.

“I want to personally thank President Trump for again…assisting [the] CNMI and [other] territories [with] our needs,” said Torres. “This is additional funding for Medicaid, disaster relief funds, and other resources that will assist us here. This is true partnership and I’m sure that he will continue to assist our people and CNMI.”

H.R. 268 is a $19-billion federal aid legislation that would help U.S. jurisdictions—states and territories—that were hit by natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, storms, typhoons, and wildfires.

Funding for research and disaster-prevention efforts are also included in the legislation, which is now known as Public Law 116-20 or the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019.

The CNMI will be receiving $25.2 million in emergency disaster nutrition relief through Sept. 30, 2020, to help address needs in response to the presidentially declared major disasters and emergencies, including needs following Yutu.

American Samoa is eligible to receive an additional $18 million in disaster nutrition assistance as made available under Section 18 of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008.

An additional $129 million in disaster relief funds will also be made available to the CNMI through Community Development Block Grants-Disaster Recovery Grants, and other federal grants. The CNMI can expect at least $50 million from the CDBG-DR, aside from the $100 million already allocated from previous legislation that was passed last year.

The CNMI will also receive an additional $36 million in Medicaid funds, also referred to as the Section 1108 allotment of the Social Security Act. This is the maximum amount of funding the CNMI may receive from the federal government in Medicaid allotments through the remainder of fiscal year 2019. The Federal Medical Assistance Percentages match waiver is also applicable to this funding through the remainder of fiscal year 2019

Torres, in an earlier statement, said this was also the result of the continuing collaboration between his administration and the Office of Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP).

“It covers additional requests for federal assistance that our office has worked with the Congressional Office since the typhoon. We look forward to using this funding to rebuild our homes and our lives, as well as build a stronger Marianas,” he had said.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.
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