How Will the Government Shutdown Affect Puerto Rico?

The United States government has been partially shut down since before Christmas. How is Puerto Rico affected?

Workers on furlough or unpaid

Government workers are either staying home from work or working without pay. Some 800,000 workers are affected across the nation.

Those workers who are currently at work can expect to be paid at some point in the future; this has happened in previous shutdowns.

USDA National Parks and Forests

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company, a government organization, has agreed to pay $3,000 per day to the National Park Service to cover the cost of the San Felipe del Morro and San Cristóbal castles, according to El Nuevo Dia. The New York Times put the total expenditure at $80,000. Until this “donation” was arranged, the popular tourist destinations were closed.

El Junque is also part of the US Forest Service, and is affected by the shut down.

The USDA has suspended some of the other services normally performed in Puerto Rico. For example, inspections for invasive species at ports have been suspended. It’s difficult to predict the long-term consequences of actions like these.

Service delays

Student loan disbursements, Medicaid and Social Security applications, and other services may experience delays.

Government websites are not being updated during the shutdown, so information is not current. This is not specific to Puerto Rico, but residents may have fewer other sources of information that those in the states.

Budget delay

The budget which did not get passed included $600 million for nutrition assistance for Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is already waiting for disbursement of much of the funding that has been awarded, and the recovery is not complete.

As a territory of the United States, Puerto Rico is affected by decisions made in Washington, D.C., but has little input. Puerto Rico has no senators, no voting members of Congress, and no vote in presidential elections.

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