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  • US Senator Bernie Sanders, 10 federal legislators, as well as numerous members of the Committee on Natural Resources and Senate are backing the new bill.

    US Senator Bernie Sanders, 10 federal legislators, as well as numerous members of the Committee on Natural Resources and Senate are backing the new bill. | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 March 2019

"It is inconceivable that in the richest nation in the world we have allowed our fellow citizens to suffer for so long," Sanders said.

Together with New York House Representative Nydia Velazquez, 2020 Hopeful Bernie Sanders, is filing a bill to increase food aid for the 1.35 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico.

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"It is inconceivable that in the richest nation in the world we have allowed our fellow citizens to suffer for so long without having access to all the resources of the United States Government," Sanders said.

For that reason the pair of politicians are pushing for a bill which would direct Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assistance to citizens in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands in cash.

As of right now, only the 50 states, Guam territories, and the Virgin Islands receive this form of federal aid. Only US$1,900 million from the Nutrition Assistance Program (PAN) is allocated to Puerto Rico per year. Sanders denounced the unfair treatment, saying that the new legislation- if approved- would not only assist Puerto forced to “recover from the hurricane, but to provide aid to the most vulnerable in our society."

Velazquez, an equally vocal critic of the Trump administration’s treatment of the U.S. territory, defended Puerto Ricans, reminding the public that they “"are US citizens who fight and die in our wars."

"It is shameful and inconceivable that, when it comes to food security, they receive disparate treatment in a program that fails to help them when they need it most. No child in our nation should go hungry, but especially after a natural disaster," Velazquez said.

“Unfortunately, the current nutrition assistance program fails Puerto Rico when food demand is highest.  This legislation would fix this long-standing injustice and I’m proud to join Bernie Sanders in introducing it,” she said.

Ten federal legislators have sponsored the project with additional support coming from members of the Committee on Natural Resources and Senate.

Despite efforts of many in congress to increase PAN benefits for some 300,000 people with an additional US$600 million in funding, the Trump Administration rejected the initiative as “unnecessary" and "excessive."

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