Headlines From Our Twitter Feed

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Pierluisi Statement on Developments in Congress Regarding Puerto Rico

Press Release

Del. Pedro Pierluisi

Washington, DC—Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi issued the
following statement on today’s developments in Congress regarding
Puerto Rico:

“This morning, I spoke on the House floor about the crisis in Puerto
Rico, and about the urgent need for Congress to enact legislation that
gives Puerto Rico the tools it needs to surmount this crisis.

“Subsequently, Congressman Sean Duffy, Republican from Wiscon-
sin, filed the Puerto Rico Financial Stability and Debt Restructuring
Choice Act.  The bill would provide Puerto Rico with the same abili-
ty to restructure debt as the states have, while establishing a tempora-
ry financial stability council to assist Puerto Rico in managing its fi-
nances.  The Puerto Rico government could opt not to use the restruc-
turing authority, in which case the council would not be established.
However, if Puerto Rico does elect to use the restructuring authority,
the council would take effect for a period of time.  The choice would
be Puerto Rico’s.  I commend Congressman Duffy for his leadership
in acknowledging that Puerto Rico requires a federal mechanism to
restructure debt.  I hope Congressman Duffy will work with me to re-
calibrate the oversight portion of his bill, which I believe has proble-
matic aspects.

“Also today, on the Senate floor, Senator Chuck Schumer of New
York, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of
New York, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, Senator Robert Menen-
dez of New Jersey, and Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut
spoke at length about Puerto Rico.  Senator Schumer sought consent
from all senators to approve the Puerto Rico Chapter 9 Uniformity
Act.  All this bill would do is empower the U.S. territory of Puerto
Rico to restructure its debt in the exact same way that each U.S. sta-
te is empowered to restructure its debt.  The fact that we even have
to fight for equal treatment in this area proves the point I made in my
floor speech this morning, when I compared the relationship between
the federal government and Puerto Rico to ‘the relationship between
a master and his servant’ and called it a ‘national disgrace.’  Our poli-
tical status must be discarded for a new status, namely statehood, that
does not require us to beg Congress for fair and equitable treatment.

“Chairman Hatch announced this morning that he will introduce a bill
today called the Puerto Rico Assistance Act of 2015.  I have reviewed
a summary of the bill, but not the legislative text itself.  Based on that
summary, there are aspects of the bill that are positive—such as the
bill’s recognition that Puerto Rico is treated inequitably under federal
health programs, the allocation of up to $3 billion in federal funding to
assist the territory, and federal payroll tax relief for island workers for
five years—and aspects that I have concerns with, such as the absence
of a federal mechanism to enable Puerto Rico to restructure any of its
debt.  But, overall, I am grateful to Chairman Hatch for his attention to
this issue, and I know he is approaching this matter in good faith. I look
forward to continuing to work with him, Ranking Member Wyden and
others in an effort to enact a meaningful legislative package into law
before Congress recesses.  If Congress declines to take action by then,
it does so at its own peril.

“Viewed in their entirety, the individual developments today demons-
trate that congressional leaders fully understand the severity of the cri-
sis and are actively considering concrete steps to empower Puerto Rico.
Now is the time to work together on a bipartisan basis to enact a sensi-
ble package of legislative provisions into law.”        

No comments:

Post a Comment