U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has appointed Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi to the “Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico,” which was established by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA).
The Task Force consists of eight members of Congress — two Senate Republicans appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, two Senate Democrats appointed by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, two House Republicans appointed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, and two House Democrats appointed by Pelosi. Speaker Ryan will designate one of the eight members to serve as the chair of the Task Force.
The Task Force is required to produce a report by Dec. 31, 2016 that describes “impediments in current federal law and programs to economic growth in Puerto Rico,” including “equitable access to federal health care programs.”
The Task Force is also required to highlight “recommended changes to federal law and programs that, if adopted,” would spur sustainable long-term economic growth, promote job creation, reduce child poverty, and attract investment in Puerto Rico.
Prior to release of the final report, the Task Force must provide a “status update” that includes a discussion of matters the chair of the Task Force “deems urgent for consideration by Congress.” This status update must be furnished between Sept. 1 and Sept. 15, 2016.
The Task Force is authorized to hold hearings, and if it elects to do so, at least one hearing must be held in Puerto Rico. In preparing its report, the Task Force is required to consult with the Puerto Rico private sector, the Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly, and the Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce.
According to Section 409 of PROMESA, “to the greatest extent practicable, the report…shall reflect the shared views of all eight members, except that the report may contain dissenting views.”
“I want to thank Leader Pelosi for appointing me to the Task Force. As Puerto Rico’s only elected representative in Congress, who has been immersed in the full range of federal issues affecting Puerto Rico since 2009, and who is willing and able to work in a bipartisan manner, I believe I can be a constructive member of the Task Force,” said Pierluisi.
“It is my hope that the report will provide a simple and clear roadmap for federal policymakers, describing those programs and policies under which Puerto Rico is treated in a distinct manner relative to other U.S. jurisdictions, and observing ways in which Congress could take legislative action or the executive branch could take administrative action to promote economic growth on the island,” he said, noting that areas to be examined will include federal health programs and incentives designed to encourage investment and job creation, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.
In addition to Pierluisi, Leader Pelosi appointed Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez of New York to the Task Force.
“Puerto Rico has seen no stronger advocate in a Resident Commissioner than Pedro Pierluisi,” Pelosi said in a press release announcing her appointments.
“Since arriving in the House nearly eight years ago, he has worked tirelessly to ensure fair and equitable treatment for Puerto Rico under federal programs,” she said. “From his seat on the House Natural Resources Committee, Pedro played an instrumental role in the negotiations that resulted in the PROMESA legislation. And as the voice of Puerto Rico in Congress, he will bring an indispensable perspective to the work of the Task Force.”