Ask U.S. Senate to Reject the House-Approved PROMESA Bill
TRENTON – Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, Senator Nellie Pou and Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez today expressed their strong support for a responsible debt restructuring plan for Puerto Rico that is being championed by U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. The plan was discussed at a roundtable meeting Senator Menendez held today with Puerto Rican state legislators and leaders of community organizations in New Jersey.
Senators Ruiz, Pou and Cruz-Perez said the Menendez-sponsored plan would address significant shortcomings in financial rescue legislation approved by the U.S. House of Representatives Friday, and are urging U.S. Senators in New York, Florida and Illinois – states with large Puerto Rican populations – to support the proposal. The Senator’s plan is an alternative to the House-approved bill, H.R. 5872, also called PROMESA, which has yet to be considered by the U.S. Senate.
“The PROMESA bill does not fulfill its promise. At a critical time when this country is talking about the ‘Fight for 15,’ there are provisions in the bill which would provide for the rollback of the minimum wage to $4.25 an hour. This bill also contains no clear path to actually restructuring Puerto Rico’s debt,” said Senator Ruiz. “Senator Menendez’s proposal is the right way forward and right now it is critical that we mobilize to make sure that representatives in New York, Florida and Illinois understand the importance of getting behind it.”
“We must take action to protect Puerto Rico from financial collapse, but we have to do it in a way that preserves the rights of the government and the residents to be a meaningful part of the process. We also have to make sure there is a real opportunity for success under the legislation,” said Senator Pou. “That means ensuring that the board has appropriate representation and that the legislation allows Puerto Rico to properly restructure all of its debt.”
“We have an opportunity to provide assistance to Puerto Rico, but it has to be done right,” said Senator Cruz-Perez. “We are urging lawmakers in New York, Florida and Illinois to support the changes proposed by Senator Menendez to improve upon the legislation and to give Puerto Rico the relief it deserves. Congress must act responsibly to ensure that Puerto Rico’s residents are protected, just as it would to protect residents anywhere else in the United States. We will be working with community organizations in New Jersey and elsewhere to help provide support for this plan.”
The changes Senator Menendez is advocating include: Creating a clear path to restructuring all of the island’s debt without any legislative hurdles; a scaled back and representative oversight board whose officials are appointed by the democratically-elected members on the island; the elimination of nonsensical provisions that reduce the islands minimum wage, further driving the out-migration of Puerto Rico’s productive youth; and the prioritizing of pensions over bond holding hedge funds and creditors. In addition, the senator is pushing for ending the arbitrary exclusion of the American citizens living in Puerto Rico from receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit and the full Child Tax Credit and correcting the disparity for critical federal health programs.