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Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

Representing the 7th District of New York

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Velázquez, Members of Congress Oppose Changes to Puerto Rico Oversight Board

Velázquez, Members of Congress Oppose Changes to Puerto Rico Oversight Board
December 4, 2017
Press Release

42 Members of Congress Say Altering Oversight Law Would Create Confusion, Slow Hurricane Recovery
 
Washington, DC – With Congress expected to consider additional funding for Puerto Rico’s disaster recovery in coming weeks, Members of Congress are signaling opposition to altering the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA).  In a letter sent today to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the Chairs of the Natural Resources and Appropriations Committee, 42 Members of Congress argued that changing the authorities of the Island’s Oversight Board could spur confusion and uncertainty, impeding hurricane recovery.  
 
“PROMESA was the product of painstaking, bipartisan negotiations and reopening the Act now would not benefit the Island, but sow confusion and potentially harm Puerto Rico’s physical and economic recoveries,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) who spearheaded the letter.  “The Oversight Board was established for the very specific purpose of addressing Puerto Rico’s debt and economic issues and changings its powers now would not benefit the Island’s recovery from Maria. Instead, the federal government must work with Puerto Rico’s elected officials to provide immediate hurricane relief and tools for longer term rebuilding.” 
 
The full text of the letter is below. For a PDF, click here
 


December 1, 2017

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker
H-232 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Rob Bishop
Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources
123 Cannon Building
Washington, DC 20515 

The Honorable Rodney Frelinghuysen
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
2306 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Speaker Ryan, Chairman Bishop and Chairman Frelinghuysen:

In the coming weeks, Congress will consider supplemental appropriations legislation for areas affected by recent hurricanes, including Puerto Rico. Nearly two months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, the Island is still struggling to regain any sense of normalcy. While some progress has been made, the lack of a stable energy grid and the destruction of housing and key infrastructure will require years to rebuild. As with Texas post-Harvey and Florida post-Irma, Puerto Rico will require substantial federal investment.

Unfortunately, recent congressional hearings concerning the Island have centered on the mistrust of Puerto Rico’s government and the potential need to provide the Oversight Board established under Title I of PROMESA (48 U.S.C. §2121) with additional authorities. We agree that taxpayers must have confidence in the rebuilding of Puerto Rico, which requires transparency and accountability; however, a move by Congress to reopen PROMESA and broadly expand the Board’s powers would be a mistake. The Board’s statutory mission is to oversee the Island’s finances and provide a pathway for debt restructuring (which is well underway), not to operate a parallel government that could stymie and complicate recovery efforts.  

Given that PROMESA has only been law for 17 months, we should instead be allowing the Board to use the tools it has been provided rather than tinker with its authorities.  Reopening PROMESA and broadly expanding its powers will only further confusion as to the role of Puerto Rico’s elected government vis-à-vis the Board.  At a time when the Island needs all resources focused on recovery efforts, wholesale changes to PROMESA and the Board are the last things Puerto Rico needs to be dealing with right now.  

For this reason, we urge you to not amend PROMESA.  While this legislation was far from perfect when it was signed into law, it was the product of many tough months of bipartisan negotiations. As a result, we believe the Board already possesses the necessary tools to oversee the Island’s finances and, when combined with the federal government’s existing authorities regarding the use of disaster funds, should be sufficient to protect U.S. taxpayers’ interests.  

Sincerely,

 

Nydia M. Velázquez               Raúl Grijalva                           Luis V. Gutiérrez
Member of Congress               Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

José E. Serrano                        Adriano Espaillat                    Darren Soto                 
Member of Congress               Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

Steny Hoyer                            Joseph Crowley                       Colleen Hanabusa                               
Member of Congress               Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

William “Lacy” Clay, Jr.         Brian Higgins                          Robert A. Brady                     
Member of Congress               Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

Dwight Evans                         Richard Neal                           Peter Welch  
Member of Congress               Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

Norma I. Torres                       Grace F. Napolitano                Ruben Gallego
Member of Congress               Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 


Grace Meng                            Brendan F. Boyle                    Frank Pallone, Jr.
Member of Congress               Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

Charlie Crist                            Jerrold Nadler                         Juan Vargas
Member of Congress               Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

Jimmy Gomez                         Paul Tonko                              Carolyn B. Maloney
Member of Congress               Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

Donald Norcross                     James P. McGovern                John Garamendi          
Member of Congress               Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

Albio Sires                              Kathleen M. Rice                    Keith Ellison
Member of Congress               Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

Jacky Rosen                            Debbie Dingell                        Ben Ray Luján
Member of Congress               Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

Joseph P. Kennedy, III           Hakeem Jeffries                      Thomas R. Suozzi
Member of Congress               Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

Sean Patrick Maloney             Ann McLane Kuster               Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress               Member of Congress               Member of Congress


Cc:       House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi
Ranking Member Committee on Appropriations, Nita M. Lowey

 

 

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