Acevedo Loses 43% Of Puerto Rico Water Projects Funding… Right-Wing Republican Endorses Acevedo For Governor… Puerto Rico "Investing In Its Communities In New Jersey"… Congressional Leaders Agree To $25m For Veterans Hospital

November 21, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

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Acevedo Loses 43% Of Puerto Rico Water Projects Funding

Both Houses of the Congress this week gave final approval to one bill to provide funds for water and other projects for the current fiscal year (2004). Representatives of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate made progress in agreeing on another bill to provide funding for water and other projects this year.

Fully approved was the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill. It includes $18.1 million for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water projects in Puerto Rico. The amount for Puerto Rico is $5.7 million less than was requested by the Bush Administration.

Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila ("commonwealth" party) was unable to obtain the funds in President Bush’s budget proposal and another $100,000 he sought although the bill appropriates more funds for water projects funding than the Bush Administration sought. It includes $4.6 billion for Corps of Engineers water projects -- $400 million more than the President requested.

Many Members of the Congress were able to get increases in funding for projects the Bush Administration proposed added to the bill or get projects added to the bill.

The biggest single loss for Puerto Rico is coming from the other bill, a bill to provide funding for veterans, housing, and environmental programs on which final issues are still being worked out. The loss is $8 million for a special grant for a water treatment plant to improve drinking water quality for the 1.5 million residents of the San Juan metropolitan area. Acevedo, however, has expressed confidence that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will loan the funds to Puerto Rico. Governor Sila Calderon ("commonwealth") has said that the territorial government would provide the funding if the Congress or the EPA do not.

The Energy and Water Appropriations bill would appropriate $12 million to dredge the Puerto Nuevo River -- $4.5 million less than the Bush Administration proposal.

The legislation also includes $4 million to prevent flooding in Ponce related to the Portugues and Bucana Rivers -- $1.2 million less than the Bush request.

Two smaller projects were fully funded -- $1.1 million to control flooding of the La Plata River and $1 million to control it from the Areceibo Rivera.

Acevedo did not get $100,000 of the $300,000 he sought to study the feasibility of dredging the Martin Pena Canal in San Juan.

Right-Wing Republican Endorses Acevedo For Governor

U.S. Representative Roger Wicker (R-MS) this week endorsed Resident Commissioner Acevedo Vila’s gubernatorial candidacy.

Wicker is one of the most conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Acevedo has been working hard to line up congressional endorsements. Before Wicker, all of those who have endorsed him have been Democrats, and mostly liberal Democrats.

Acevedo is a Democrat for national political party purposes although he does not always support Democrats for office. Last year, for example, he declined to support the Democratic candidates for governor in New York and Florida. In the case of New York, he said that incumbent Republican George Pataki was as good as the Democratic candidate.

Governor Calderon provided critical support for Acevedo’s election as resident commissioner. Calderon campaigned for Pataki, supported the re-election of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and has said President George Bush should get substantial support from citizens of the States with roots in Puerto Rico because he is "compassionate."

Calderon and Acevedo have long been close to Wicker. He has been one of the principal supporters of their proposals in the Congress. One of their other principal supporters in the Congress is also a conservative Republican from Mississippi, Senator Trent Lott.

A key connection to both men for Acevedo and Calderon has been their lead lobbyist in Washington, former Republican National Committee Chairman Charlie Black. Calderon has also employed Wicker’s daughter.

Puerto Rico "Investing In Its Communities In New Jersey"

Governor Calderon’s Washington office Thursday announced that the territorial government is "Investing in its Communities in New Jersey." The office did not explain how the territory acquired jurisdiction over communities in the State.

It did say, however, that it was training New Jersey institutions and organizations on how to obtain federal grants. The New Jersey entities will compete with Puerto Rico institutions for some of the grants.

Calderon’s office here said that the effort is part of Governor Calderon’s "commitment to the growth and empowerment of the Puerto Rican communities in the United States."

Calderon previously launched a $6 million a year drive to register citizens of States with roots in Puerto Rico to vote in the States. Among those targeted are New Jersey citizens who have roots in Puerto Rico. For purposes of the voter registration drive, they are, presumably, considered to be members of New Jersey communities.

Congressional Leaders Agree To $25 Million For Veterans Hospital

U.S. House and Senate representatives working out differences between the two chambers on a major spending bill have reportedly agreed to appropriate $25 million to improve the Veterans Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The amount is $5 million less than sought by Resident Commissioner Acevedo Vila. In addition, there has been no action on Acevedo’s request for $450 million for a new veterans medical facility.

The funds are included in the bill to provide funding for veterans, housing, and environmental programs for fiscal year 2004.

The "Washington Update" appears weekly.

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