The Supreme Court docket accepts Trump Admin. Petition to punish Puerto Rico that Biden had promised to finish
It's about $ 2.3 billion in annual SSI payments that could go to more than 300,000 poor, blind, and disabled citizens in Puerto Rico. Congress created SSI in 1972 and supported low-income Americans who are 65 years of age, blind, or disabled in only the 50 states and DC. He later expanded the program to the Northern Mariana Islands, but not to other areas, including Puerto Rico. Guam, the US Virgin Islands, or American Samoa. Instead, residents of these islands remain under an older program, Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled (AABD), which grants appropriate grants to states and territories. The number of people in these areas who can receive assistance from the AABD is limited as funds are limited, while SSI is a perpetual claim by the federal government – he's there to help whoever needs it, when they need it . Puerto Rico is receiving approximately $ 36 million for AABD as well as other adult assistance programs, a number that hasn't changed since fiscal 1997.
The Government Accountability Office estimated a decade ago, in 2011, that federal spending on the Puerto Rico program was less than 2% of what it would have been if all eligible individuals had received SSI. This means that many vulnerable people are not getting the support their counterparts in the states get. Puerto Rico's non-voting representative in Congress, Republican Jenniffer González, pointed this out to President Biden in a letter on his inauguration day, asking him to drop the Trump case.
"Of all the inequalities Americans face in the Territories, none is as shocking to the conscience as the inequality in support of the most vulnerable citizens," wrote González. She cited this 10-year-old GAO report which estimated that the average monthly payment for needy Puerto Ricans under SSI would have been $ 422 instead of $ 74 via AABD and that 354,000 residents would have been eligible instead of 37,500.
Others have stepped in, including the leaders of the Catholic and Methodist, Lutheran, United Churches of Christ, Christian (disciples) and Evangelical churches in the United States and Puerto Rico, as well as the leaders of the National Council of Churches and the Council of Churches of Puerto Rico, Catholic Charities and the General Bible Society and Jubilee USA Network. They wrote to Biden last week, urging him to "immediately order the Justice Department to withdraw the previous government's lawsuit blocking annual payments of $ 2.3 billion in supplemental security income (SSI) ". Five Democratic members of Congress, led by Rep. Nydia Velazquez of New York, have also asked Biden to drop the petition.
Biden's September tweet is correct: Trump insulted Puerto Ricans and disrespected the island. Its DOJ petition states that the DC Circuit's decision "threatens to cost the United States billions of dollars," including Puerto Rico, and "$ 23 billion over the next decade." These benefits for the U.S. citizens Trump's acting attorney general Jeffrey Wall wrote that Puerto Rican residents might believe they could get more federal benefits, such as money for a school feeding program and Medicaid.
On the same day the Supreme Court announced that it would accept the SSI case, House members, including González, introduced a non-partisan statehood law that provides a process for a federally binding choice of territory to see if it wants to be a state. If the islanders opted for statehood, this would happen. "Puerto Rico has been part of this nation since 1898, when we switched from the Spanish government to the American government through the Treaty of Paris," said González when the law was introduced. "On a day like today in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson granted us American citizenship. To this day, however, it is a second-class American citizenship."
The Justice Department and the White House have not yet commented on the Supreme Court complaint.