|Senator Nellie Pou (D-35), chair of the New Jersey Legislative Latino Caucus, today issued the following statement pledging to work to gain support and passage by the U.S. Senate of a responsible economic recovery plan for Puerto Rico spearheaded by U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ).
The plan is an alternative to legislation recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. Senator Pou said the House bill, H.R. 5872, also referred to as PROMESA, would take away important rights of the Puerto Rican people and its government, and said the plan put forward by Senator Menendez would address a number of significant shortcomings. The House bill has yet to be considered by the U.S. Senate.
“The PROMESA bill falls far short of providing the ‘promise’ to Puerto Rico that the island and its residents deserve. As chair of the Latino Legislative Caucus, I strongly support the effort of Senator Menendez to advance a more compassionate and responsible plan that offers Puerto Rico an opportunity to restructure its debt but also maintains the ability of the duly-elected representatives of the island to make decisions on behalf of those they represent.
“PROMESA would put in place a board that would assume control of financial decisions. The legislation would allow Puerto Rico to restructure only a portion of its debt. It would also allow for the reduction of the minimum wage to $4.25, an incomprehensible rate of pay.
“I will be working with my colleagues here and in other states in an effort to secure support for Senator Menendez’s proposal. This is about doing what is right for the citizens of Puerto Rico and upholding the values and principles that all of us as Americans hold dear.”
Menendez wants a financial rescue plan that would include the following provisions: 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 island’s 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.