Bordallo Expresses Concerns on Puerto Rico Bill
Washington, D.C. - Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo today raised her concerns with H.R. 4900, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), during a hearing of the House Committee on Natural Resources on the Puerto Rico fiscal crisis. Congresswoman Bordallo reiterated her position that this bill should include provisions that solve underlying challenges that contributed to Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, including removing territorial caps on Medicaid, giving state-like treatment in FMAP reimbursement rates, providing a cover-over to territories for the Earned Income Tax Credit, and solving challenges to make government retirement systems more sustainable.
Last week, Congresswoman Bordallo, along with her colleagues, Congresswoman Amata Radewagen (R-AS), Congressman Kilili Sablan (D-MP), and Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) wrote to the Committee to underscore their support for solving these underlying issues and urge the committee to include them in PROMESA.
H.R. 4900 establishes an oversight board to work with Puerto Rico’s government to reform and manage its government’s finances. The bill also authorizes a debt restructuring process that will enable Puerto Rico to work with creditors to pay debts. The bill establishes an “opt-in” mechanism that insulates the other territories from the oversight board and debt restructuring provisions as they apply to Puerto Rico by requiring each territory to have their Legislature and Governor affirmatively request that Congress have an oversight board apply to the territory. This provision addresses concerns that were raised by Congresswoman Bordallo and Governor Calvo on the potential impact these provision might have on Guam’s bond ratings.
H.R. 4900 will be marked up by the Natural Resources Committee tomorrow.
“I appreciate the Committee’s work to try and resolve concerns that I and my fellow delegates have raised regarding the oversight board and debt restructuring being proposed for Puerto Rico. I am encouraged that the Committee has included an “opt-in” provision that requires a vote of a territory’s legislature, along with a concurrence of the Governor before the oversight board provision applies to a territory.
“I am concerned, however, that this bill fails to address the underlying and systemic challenges that led to Puerto Rico’s current debt crisis. This crisis will not be resolved through debt restructuring alone, and I urge that Congress address crucial underlying issues, such as equity in Medicaid treatment thru lifting of the caps and increased FMAP, federal treasury cover over for EITC, and fixing government pensions. I have also proposed giving Guam flexibility in extending Social Security to our government employees so that our government retirement plan does not go down the same road as Puerto Rico’s.
“PROMESA will not ultimately resolve Puerto Rico’s problems, nor will it provide a more secure financial footing for all the territories. We are doing all we can to be proactive in ensuring that what is happening to Puerto Rico does not happen to the rest of us. I hope we will get a chance at tomorrow’s mark-up or on the floor to try and address these critical challenges.”