Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. on Thursday sent a letter, in conjunction with more than 100 elected officials from across the nation, demanding immediate action from Congress to enact legislation that will allow Puerto Rico to enter bankruptcy.
“The interests of the Puerto Rican community, whether they are in Puerto Rico, New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida or anywhere else are American interests,” the letter stated.
“Congress has an obligation to act and pass legislation that seeks to amend the Federal bankruptcy code and provide Puerto Rico, and its related power authorities and municipalities, access to Chapter 9 bankruptcy protections,” the letter further noted.
In the letter, the officials asked Congressmen Orrin Hatch, Charles Grassley and Bob Goodlatte — the lawmakers responsible for reviewing a pair of companion bills known as the Puerto Rico Chapter 9 Uniformity Act of 2015 that seek to extend bankruptcy protection to the island’s public instrumentalities — to “act immediately and enact legislation.”
Puerto Rico is shouldering some $72 billion in public debt, and missed its first payment of $58 million on Aug. 1 due to Public Finance Corporation bondholders.
“When Detroit entered into bankruptcy, its debt was estimated at $18 billion to $20 billion. We would not allow any other American government or municipality to linger in such a dire financial limbo,” the letter stated.
The bills were introduced in February and July and have been sitting idle in the U.S. House and Senate, respectively.
“Congress’ failure to address this crisis presents a substantial threat not only to the economy of Puerto Rico, but the United States economy as a whole,” the elected officials said.
“Moreover, additional defaults will have severe consequences for the commonwealth’s direct creditors, which includes a large number of mutual funds and, through hedge funds, numerous pensions and other similar institutional investors; as well as other parties, including, but not limited to, bond insurers,” the letter stated.
Diaz said to be “appreciative that so many elected officials from across the United States understand the need for federal action to address Puerto Rico’s ongoing debt crisis and were willing to join forces with my office to push Congress on this issue. I will continue to work with my colleagues to advocate for a remedy to the crushing fiscal crisis facing the commonwealth.”