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Loans Not Grants For U.S.V.I., Puerto Rico

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US VP Mike Pence views the damage in St. Croix, USVI via helicopter on Oct. 6, 2017.

News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Weds. Oct. 26, 2017: The United States Senate has approved US $4.9 billion in loans for the US territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, still reeling from the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The low-interest Treasury loan were part of a US $36.5 billion supplemental disaster recovery spending bill which passed the Senate on a vote of 80-19 Tuesday.

That bill now goes to the President for his expected signature

The purpose of the loan is to cover all disaster-related revenue losses for the local governments on both islands and to avoid disruption of essential public services.

Puerto Rico was seeking the loans to avert an Oct. 31 government shutdown due to a dwindling cash balance.

The supplemental appropriations legislation also includes a total of $18.7 billion to refill FEMA’s coffers and to fund immediate FEMA disaster response costs.

The USVI’s Governor, Kenneth Mapp, said in a statement the U.S. Office of Management Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney said that long-term recovery needs of the Virgin Islands and other affected jurisdictions would be addressed in later spending legislation.

Mapp is set to travel to Washington, DC early next month to testify in support of additional federal assistance for the Virgin Islands in hearings planned by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the Chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Territories.