WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Mark Pocan (WI-02) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), along with CPC Members Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), José Serrano (NY-15), and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT),led a bicameral letter to the Puerto Rican Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB), urging its members to comply with the congressionally mandated mission of ensuring funding of essential services on the island and supporting pro-growth investment policies.
“Over a year after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico,” note the Members, “thousands of families still live under blue tarps; bridges and other infrastructure are on the verge of collapse; numerous residents and public institutions remain without reliable access to basic utilities; and hundreds of schools have been shuttered.”
“However, instead of prioritizing the reconstruction of Puerto Rico, public investments, and the safety and well-being of its citizens, the FOMB appears to have promoted fiscal policies that only worsen the island’s ongoing recession and undermine efforts to rebuild,” wrote the Members. “Basic public services remain unreliable for the majority of Puerto Ricans,” and the FOMB’s Fiscal Plan “will lead to further cuts to healthcare, education and public safety,” they added.
“To our great surprise and consternation, in spite of the far-reaching devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, the FOMB now estimates that even more funds will be available for creditors to claim than before the storm,” wrote the Members.
The 34 Members of Congress, which include Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), also express concern over possible conflicts of interest regarding the policies pursued by the FOMB and call on it to suspend all debt payments “until Puerto Rican families are in safe conditions and have access to electricity, clean water, primary and secondary education, and basic healthcare.”
“We strongly urge you to adjust your current policy approach to ensure that it complies with PROMESA, and welcome your prompt response regarding the Fiscal Plan’s apparent violations of key provisions in the law,” the Members conclude. “Deep cuts to public spending and the prioritization of debt repayment over the basic needs of the population will only deepen the island’s economic distress and depopulation.”