Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García-Padilla and members of the island’s private sector held meetings with key lawmakers in Congress, including U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, to discuss the bill that would address the Commonwealth’s fiscal crisis.
As part of his agenda in Washington D.C., he also held meetings with key lawmakers to discuss the bill that would address the island’s fiscal situation.
These meetings were in addition to current government initiatives to drive the message to Congress to provide tools Puerto Rico needs to achieve an orderly and sustainable restructuring of its $70 billion public debt as well as economic development, García-Padilla said.
“The island hopes for prompt and fair action by the federal government that results in providing the tools that Puerto Rico needs for economic recovery. We have been emphatic in stating that the consequences of the fiscal crisis have already begun to be felt,” the governor said. “Congress must act promptly with a bill that provides the necessary tools, otherwise, the scenario will be even bleaker.”
He reiterated that the solutions Congress provides can not be at the expense of the island’s democracy and self-governance. García-Padilla also met with the Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Rob Bishop, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Congressmen Charles Dent, Raúl Labrador, and Sean Duffy, author of H.R. 4900 the bill that proposed an oversight board and restructuring tools for the island that is currently being revised. An amended or new version of the bill could be presented today.
Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva — who was on the island this week — said the bill’s release was delayed from its expected Wednesday unveiling because it “was not there yet.”
“We’re making progress, but we are not there yet. The situation in Puerto Rico is dire, but a bill that doesn’t solve the problem, or doesn’t pass, won’t help anyone,” Grijalva said. “Families on the island need relief from the disastrous cuts to public services caused by the crushing debt load and collapsing economy. I remain hopeful that with a little more work we can get there.”
Meanwhile, members of the Private Sector Coalition have a total of 17 meetings scheduled through today, including a face-to-face with Ryan, “to reinforce the urgency of House action on legislation addressing Puerto Rico’s fiscal situation,” said Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association President Carlos Rivera-Vélez.
“While the bill will never be perfect, we need to restore a sense of confidence among business decision-makers and workers since this has had significant economic impact as decisions and investments have been stalled due to the question of Congressional action,” said Rivera-Vélez, who traveled to Washington D.C. with Ramón Pérez-Blanco, chairman of the Puerto Rico Products Association and Zulmarie Urrutia, president of the Society of CPA’s.
The private sector executives have been urging for inclusion of meaningful economic growth provisions to be included in the package and especially the need for a manufacturing tax incentive to jumpstart the heart of Puerto Rico’s economy, he said.
“Speaker Ryan reinforced his commitment to address the need for growth policy for Puerto Rico. However, he noted there was no time to include it in the package that needs to be passed and enacted into law prior to July 1st,” he said, referring to the date when the Commonwealth will have to pay $1.9 billion in debt service obligations.