HF Statement on the House Committee on Natural Resources Puerto Rico Proposal

After months of delays and inaction, Hispanic Federation is pleased that the United States Congress has finally begun to consider proposals to aid the more than 3 million U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico suffering as a result of the island’s fiscal crisis. We applaud Congressman Rob Bishop, Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, for carefully considering the issues facing Puerto Rico and presenting a draft of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), which includes promising proposals on debt restructuring that the island urgently needs.

While we understand that the legislation presented yesterday by Chairman Bishop is a first attempt to address the complex challenges facing Puerto Rico, Hispanic Federation wants to express its concern that elements of the proposal are problematic and, unfortunately, further undermine the already limited autonomy of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico. Hispanic Federation is especially troubled with the broad powers assigned to the proposed Puerto Rico Management and Oversight Board. The Board would have almost absolute power over the island’s political and economic affairs and would weaken Puerto Rico’s democratic institutions and the rule of law. The economic crisis should not be an opportunity to infantilize the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico by denying them their civil and democratic rights.

We also urge Congressional members to pass legislation which corrects the startling federal health care funding inequities confronting Puerto Rico. This bill does not offer any solution to this problem.

The Hispanic Federation and its network of 100 community-based organizations appreciate Chairman Bishop’s attempt to address this crisis but we encourage Congress to pursue a course of action that stabilizes the island’s financial and health care systems, without vacating the rights of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico.