President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on Puerto Rico

Washington, DC…Today, the Department of Justice will file a brief in the Supreme Court in the case United States v. Vaello-Madero, which addresses whether a provision in the Social Security Act that declines to provide Puerto Rico residents with Supplemental Security Income (SSI) violates the Constitution’s equal protection principle.

This provision is inconsistent with my Administration’s policies and values. However, the Department of Justice has a longstanding practice of defending the constitutionality of federal statutes, regardless of policy preferences. This practice is critical to the Department’s mission of preserving the rule of law. Consistent with this important practice, the Department is defending the constitutionality of the Social Security Act provision in this case.

As I have stated, I believe that Puerto Rico residents should be able to receive SSI benefits, just like their fellow Americans in all 50 states and Washington D.C. I call on Congress to amend the Social Security Act to extend these benefits to residents of Puerto Rico. And as I reiterated in my first budget request, I also support eliminating Medicaid funding caps for Puerto Rico and moving toward parity for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to align with States. These steps, along with the American Rescue Plan, which included an enhanced Child Tax Credit for families and a permanent federal match expansion to the Earned Income Tax Credit program, will provide families in Puerto Rico an equal chance to get ahead. As I’ve said before, there can be no second-class citizens in the United States of America. My Administration will work with members of Congress to make these legislative fixes a reality.

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