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HF Statement on the Obama Administration’s Roadmap for Puerto Rico

October 22, 2015 (New York, NY) – Hispanic Federation has issued the following statement in response to the Obama Administration’s just released Roadmap for Congressional Action on Puerto Rico. Today, Antonio Weiss, Counselor to the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, will testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on the Administration’s plan for action.

“Hispanic Federation welcomes the Obama Administration’s roadmap to assist Puerto Rico through this devastating fiscal and economic crisis. Much of what the Treasury Department is proposing mirrors what we have urged the federal government to undertake in our recent publication. What is abundantly clear is that the island’s $72 billion debt is unpayable and its accompanying economic challenges cannot be resolved without major federal action. We applaud President Obama and Secretary Lew for endorsing the need for federal action and investment for Puerto Rico and will work with all parties to demand Congress act on these and many other needed reforms.

Specifically, the Administration’s plan wisely calls on Congress to enact broad bankruptcy protections and debt restructuring powers for Puerto Rico, which the island currently does not have the ability to undertake. More significantly, the administration is advocating for major reforms and investments to improve access to Medicaid, along with an economic growth plan that would enact an earned income tax credit and expand a child tax credit for island residents. If enacted, this will generate billions of dollars of economic activity for the Commonwealth.

We know there is a long road ahead for the 3.5 American citizens of Puerto Rico and acknowledge this plan is a major first step down that road. As these measures move through Congress, the devil will clearly be in the details. We call on Congress and the Obama Administration to come together to enact this plan and carry out several other needed reforms, including amending the costly shipping mandates under the Jones Act, granting debt relief to significantly reduce the massive $72 billion debt, and approving a major stimulus plan to turn the island’s economy around with clean energy and infrastructure investments. If Washington does not immediately act on this escalating situation, Puerto Rico and our nation will be faced with a full-blown humanitarian crisis.”

For more information, please contact VP for Policy and Government Relations Jose Davila.