Things That Matter

After Delay Caused By Border Wall And Trump’s Feud with Puerto Rico, Congress Finally Passes $19.1 Billion Disaster Aid Package

Nearly two years after Puerto Rico was hit by two massive hurricanes,
a $19 billion disaster relief bill has been approved by Congress. The House of Representatives passed the bill on Monday night, sending the measure to President Trump, where he is expected to sign it.

The delay in the disaster funding bill was caused by a political argument between President Trump and Puerto Rico that has lasted for over a year.

Credit: @NPR / Twitter

The relief package will be sent to states like affected by flooding, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters in recent months. The bill passed by a wide bipartisan gap, 354 to 58, and ends a months-long saga in Congress.

The disaster bill, which is typically a bipartisan issue, faced multiple delays. The legislation was halted for months as President Trump and Democrats fought over aid to Puerto Rico, which will now receive more than $1.4 billion in assistance. President Trump and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz publicly argued over hurricane recovery efforts.

The stalling came at a cost as Puerto Rico cut food assistance to a program serving almost half its residents. Many people have yet to return to their normal lives almost two years later.

There were issues of where all the money would be going including funding for a border wall.

Credit: @deidrekwalsh / Twitter

There were also internal fighting among some Republicans who wanted money allocated over border funding. This led to some objections by a handful of conservatives in the House who stopped the bill from passing over Memorial Day weekend. The 58 who voted “no” on the bill all came from Republicans.

“Today we are rejecting the political stunts and grandstanding that have made it difficult to deliver much-needed disaster relief to families and communities across America,” Nita Lowey, House Appropriations Chairwoman told USA Today during the floor debate. “Americans across the country have been waiting far too long for the relief and recovery assistance they deserve.”

Ultimately, the bill will fund numerous federal programs that provide aid and rebuilding assistance to local communities, farmers, service members and others nationwide.

Besides Puerto Rico, the relief bill will help in areas like Florida, Georgia, Alabama which were hit by hurricanes in the last year. Also for massive wildfires in California, and floods in the Midwest.

The bill contains $2.4 billion for community development block grants to help with disasters that have occurred since 2017 and $3 billion for the Agriculture Department to cover farmers losses from those disasters. An additional $720 million will be given to the Forest Service to repay money spent fighting California’s deadly wildfires last year.

Many in Congress celebrated to the bill being passed after numerous delays.

Credit: @SenKamalaHarris / Twitter

Leaders on both sides of the political aisle celebrated the bill passing as many communities have sought assistance for months. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the bill was long overdue and blamed Republicans for the holdup.

“For more than four months, Republicans in the Senate, White House and now the House have forced millions of American families to pay the price for their cruel actions,” Pelosi said in a public statement.

On the Republican side, minority leader, Kevin McCarthy of California, said while the bill will help many it doesn’t solve the many problems at the U.S. border.

“The appropriated resources will begin to provide necessary aid and relief to the millions of Americans around the country struggling from the devastation caused by natural disasters,” McCarthy said. “However, it’s unfortunate that Democrats dragged their feet for so long and yet still refuse to address the humanitarian and national security crisis taking place along our southern border.”

Nonetheless, the relief package is poised to help thousands of Americans affected by the recent natural distastes. The amount of money and magnitude of the legislation highlights the recent frequency of extreme weather conditions that have occurred in the last few years in the U.S.

READ: A Legal Marijuana Industry Might Be What Puerto Rico Needs To Recover Financially

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Google Is Pledging $250K To Help With DACA Applications And Renewals

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Google Is Pledging $250K To Help With DACA Applications And Renewals

SANDY HUFFAKER / AFP via Getty Images

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is not a contentious topic among Americans. The program offers young adults who entered the U.S. as children relief from deportation and a chance to live out of the shadows. Now that it has been reinstated, Google wants to help some people achieve the dream of being a DACA recipient.

Google is pledging a quarter of a million dollars to help people apply for DACA.

The Trump administration did everything in their power to end DACA. The constant uncertainty has left hundreds of thousands of young people in limbo. The war waged against Dreamers by the Trump administration came to a temporary end when a federal judge ruled that Chad Wolf was illegally installed as the head of the Department of Homeland Security. It invalidated a member from Wolf stating that no new DACA applications would be approved.

Kent Walker, the SVP of Global Affairs, laid out the case for DACA in an essay.

Walker discusses the uncertainty the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients currently face after the tumultuous time for the program. He also touches on the economic hardships that has befallen so many because of the pandemic. With so many people out of work, some Dreamers do not have the money to apply or renew their DACA due to a lack of financial resources. For that reason, Google is getting involved.

“We want to do our part, so Google.org is making a $250,000 grant to United We Dream to cover the DACA application fees of over 500 Dreamers,” writes Walker. “This grant builds on over $35 million in support that Google.org and Google employees have contributed over the years to support immigrants and refugees worldwide, including more than $1 million from Googlers and Google.org specifically supporting DACA and domestic immigration efforts through employee giving campaigns led by HOLA (Google’s Latino Employee Resource Group).”

People are celebrating Google for their decision but are calling on Congress to do more.

Congress will ultimately have to decide on what to do for the Dreamers. There has been growing pressure from both sides of the aisle calling on Congress to work towards granting them citizenship. DACA is a risk of being dismantled at any moment. It is up to Congress to come through and deliver a bill to fix the issue once and for all.

“We know this is only a temporary solution. We need legislation that not only protects Dreamers, but also delivers other much-needed reforms,” writes Walker. “We will support efforts by the new Congress and incoming Administration to pass comprehensive immigration reform that improves employment-based visa programs that enhance American competitiveness, gives greater assurance to immigrant workers and employers, and promotes better and more humane immigration processing and border security practices.”

READ: New DACA Applications Were Processed At The End Of 2020 For The First Time In Years

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says She Faced Close Encounter And Feared For Her Life

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says She Faced Close Encounter And Feared For Her Life

aoc / Instagram

We are getting a better look into what happened at the U.S. Capitol when Trump supporters stormed the building. There have been stories of politicians with military history saving lives and horrific revelations. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently let the world know that she had a moment when she feared for her life.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is speaking out after the violent day at the Capitol building.

In an hour-long Instagram Live video, Rep. AOC spoke frankly about what happened while far-right Trump supporters stormed the building. The unruly mob turned a usually ceremonious and boring function of Congress, certifying the electoral votes, into one of the darkest days for our democracy. For Rep. AOC, it was almost the end of her life.

“As for myself, I had a pretty traumatizing event happen to me. I do not know if I can even disclose the full details of that event due to security concerns,” she said in her Instagram Live while recounting the insurrection of Jan. 6. “I can tell you that I had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die and you have all of those thoughts where, you know, at the end of your life, and all of these thoughts come rushing to you. That’s what happened to a lot of us on Wednesday. I did not think, I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive. Not just in a general sense but also in a very, very specific sense.”

Rep. AOC also used her Instagram Live to talk about the traitorous acts she witnessed.

At the beginning of the video, Rep. AOC highlights the Republicans who helped create the dangerous insurrection. She did not hold back on naming some of the people she holds responsible for inciting the mob through rhetoric and political ambition.

“Wednesday, as you know, the president, frankly assisted by members of Congress, incited an attack on the United States Capitol,” Rep. AOC says in the video. “This is known as an act of insurrection, an act of sedition. Frankly, he is a traitor to our country, a traitor to the United States and I don’t think there’s another way you can put it. I don’t think there’s another way to put, there’s no other way to put it.”

She continued adding: “If you are Senator Ted Cruz or Senator Josh Hawley, and frankly if you are many members of Congress, you cast that vote not out of genuine belief, but you cast it out of political ambition. That is what they did. They incited an attack on the Capitol and many many many members of Congress were almost murdered. Many Congressional staffers were almost killed. Many children, children of members of Congress, were there. Children.”

Rep. AOC is not the only member of Congress sounding the alarm about colleagues making this happen.

Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., came forward to tell people about how she saw Republican members of Congress allegedly working with the rioters.

“We can’t have a democracy if members of Congress are actively helping the president overturn the elections results,” Rep. Sherrill said during a live webcast Tuesday. “And so not only do I intend to see that the president is removed and never runs for office again and doesn’t have access to classified material, I also intend to see that those members of Congress who abetted him; those members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 — a reconnaissance for the next day; those members of Congress that incited this violent crowd; those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy; I’m going to see they are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don’t serve in Congress.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s chief of staff reported her own terrifying moment.

Sarah Groh told Boston Globe that she and her husband were in Rep. Pressley’s office and barricaded the door with furniture. That was when she tried to use the panic buttons for help, which she had done before. Despite never changing offices, Groh said that all of the panic buttons were gone.

READ: Ted Cruz Among Senators Facing Backlash And Calls To Resign After Mob Breaches US Capitol

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