Senator Reid Calls for Puerto Rico Task Force

Puerto Rico has gotten a lot of attention in Congress recently, but Congress still has taken no action on Puerto Rico’s status, on providing Puerto Rico with bankruptcy protection, or on giving help with the debt crisis affecting the Island. This lack of action is motivating some members of Congress to speak up.

Nevada Senator Harry Reid wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying that “Congress has the responsibility to act to protect its citizens.”

Senator Reid expressed frustration in a press release with the number of bills and hearings and conversations which have taken place without leading to action. “I sent a letter to the Republican leader urging him to appoint a task force on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis,” he said. “I am confident that such a task force can develop a comprehensive proposal that will provide Puerto Rico with the restructuring tools it needs to emerge from this crisis.”

Senator Reid is a cosponsor of S. 2436, the Puerto Rico Emergency Financial Stability Act of 2015, which would outlaw suits against the government of Puerto Rico for not paying its bills until April 1st, after House Speaker Paul Ryan’s March 31st deadline for a solution for Puerto Rico. Reid also cosponsored S. 1774, the Puerto Rico Chapter 9 Uniformity Act, which would give Puerto Rico chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

We can and must act swiftly,” Reid said. “Americans in Puerto Rico need our help, and we cannot turn our backs on them.”

Reid is a longtime advocate of statehood for Puerto Rico.

We’re glad to see that the Senator from Nevada, a state with less than 1% Puerto Rican population, is aware that Congress has a responsibility to Puerto Rico. This shows that increasing awareness about Puerto Rico, where 3.7 million U.S. citizens live, doesn’t have to come just from New York and Florida.

If you vote in one of the 50 States, let your senators and your congressperson know that you care about equal rights in Puerto Rico, you care about the debt crisis in Puerto Rico, and you care about Puerto Rico’s statehood — the only choice that will give Puerto Rico permanent equal rights going forward.

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The task force would be headed by Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Chairwoman and Ranking Minority of the committee with general jurisdiction over territories, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Murkowski and the Chairmen of the Finance and Judiciary Committees, Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) proposed legislation to provide financial assistance to Puerto Rico and establish a Federal Authority that could withhold Federal funds if the territorial government did not follow its guidance on financial matters. The legislation proposed by the three Senate committee chairs did not include authority for the Government of Puerto Rico to enable instrumentalities – or the Government – itself to have its debts revised in a process run by a Federal bankruptcy court, which Reid said any package should include. Cantwell and Finance Committee Ranking Minority Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) worked with their Republican committee counterparts late last year to try to reach agreement on legislation but Grassley opposed the inclusion of any bankruptcy authority.

 

 

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