CHC URGES CONGRESSIONAL ACTION ON THE FISCAL SITUATION IN PUERTO RICO
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Linda T. Sánchez sent a letter to House and Senate leadership on behalf of the entire Caucus, calling for congressional action on the fiscal situation in Puerto Rico. The CHC supports congressional action on the situation in Puerto Rico, which is home to 3.5 million American citizens. The text of the letter is below.
Congressman José E. Serrano: “Congress must act to help Puerto Rico address its fiscal crisis. It is our duty to help a territory where millions of American citizens, many of whom have proudly served our nation, live. We have a roadmap for action in the four pillars outlined in the Obama Administration’s proposal. But now it is time to take action. Leadership in both the House and the Senate have a large role to play and I encourage them to come to the table to address a crisis that can’t wait any longer.”
Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez: “The Administration has put forth a series of thoughtful proposals to help ameliorate the crisis in Puerto Rico, but these items require Congressional action. It would be unconscionable for Congress to sit by and do nothing as the island’s economy and financial situation further deteriorate, leaving 3.5 million American citizens in the cold. Now is the time for action and I call on the Congressional Leadership to move legislation swiftly.”
Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva: “We know we can’t stand idly by while our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico – every one of whom is an American citizen – watch their economy continue to suffer. A report my staff released this summer shows how damaging this financial crisis has been for the Puerto Rican people and how badly they need our aid. Our requests for a hearing can’t go unanswered any longer. We need to do our duties, conduct oversight and take legislative action.”
Congressman Pedro R. Pierluisi of Puerto Rico: “I want to thank Chairwoman Linda Sánchez for sending this letter to House and Senate leadership on behalf of the CHC, urging the passage of a bipartisan legislative package that would provide Puerto Rico with more equitable treatment under federal health and tax credit programs, would empower the territory to restructure a portion of its debt, just as every state is empowered to do; and would authorize federal oversight—but not control—designed to help Puerto Rico better manage its public finances. For both moral and public policy reasons, it is incumbent upon Congress to act—and to act swiftly.”
November 6, 2015
The Honorable Paul Ryan The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House House Democratic Leader
H-232, The Capitol H-204, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Mitch McConnell The Honorable Harry Reid
Senate Majority Leader Senate Minority Leader
317 Russell Senate Office Building 522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Mr. Speaker, Leader Pelosi, Leader McConnell, and Leader Reid:
I am writing to you on behalf of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to express our deep concern about the severe economic and fiscal situation in Puerto Rico, a U.S. jurisdiction home to 3.5 million American citizens. This year alone, there have been four committee hearings—two in the House, two in the Senate—on Puerto Rico. It is clear to any reasonable observer that congressional action is both necessary and justified. If the federal government does not provide Puerto Rico with the tools it needs, the situation on the island will continue to deteriorate. Vital public services may be compromised, payments to creditors could be missed, and the already-unprecedented number of Puerto Rico residents relocating to the U.S. mainland could further spike.
Last week, the Administration—led by the U.S. Treasury Department, the National Economic Council and the Department of Health and Human Services—submitted to Congress a legislative proposal to address the situation in Puerto Rico. It consists of four pillars: more equitable treatment under refundable federal tax credit programs like the earned income tax credit program and the child tax credit program; more equitable treatment under federal health programs like Medicaid; a federally-authorized process to enable Puerto Rico to restructure bonded debt in a fair and orderly manner; and a degree of federal oversight to help the government of Puerto Rico manage its finances in a more effective and transparent way.
We believe these four pillars provide a valuable framework for bipartisan, bicameral legislative action. We urge Congress to enact a package of meaningful legislative provisions, either in the form of a standalone bill or as part of a larger vehicle, such as legislation making appropriations for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2016.
It is our fervent hope that Congress will act with a sense of urgency that is commensurate with the urgent nature of the problem in Puerto Rico. Your leadership is essential to accomplishing this objective.
Rep. Linda T. Sánchez
Congressional Hispanic Caucus