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FOMB Chairman Carrión and Board Member García Resign

By on July 1, 2020

Financial Oversight and Management Board member Carlos García and Chairman José Carrion (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

Vacancies Portend Political Gamesmanship in Replacement Process 

SAN JUAN — The announced resignation of the Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) Chairman José B. Carrión and FOMB member Carlos “Caco” García has members of U.S. Congress on both sides of the aisle either cringing or licking their chops at the prospect that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) must submit a list of three names to President Donald Trump to fill the expected vacancies. Here’s why.

Under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa), then-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) submitted two separate lists of three names from which then-President Barack Obama selected the speaker’s Category A nominee, Carrión, and his Category B nominee, García. Both exiting board members are dyed-in-the-wool Republicans and the nominees to replace them are likely to be slightly more progressive as Speaker Pelosi gets to submit her Junta Dupleta.

Promesa stipulates that vacancies, in this case a Category A member and a Category B member, must be filled through the same process as the former incumbents were selected. Therefore, the onus is on Speaker Pelosi to send a list of three names to Trump, for a selection of a Category A member and another list of three names to fill the Category B void.

If the president does not pick a candidate from Pelosi’s lists on the first go-around, the speaker has a second crack at the bat with two new lists. The president could either select a candidate from the lists on the second round or reject them and if the posts have not been filled by Sept. 1, “then the President shall appoint an individual from the list for the current vacant category by September 15, 2020, provided that such list includes at least 2 individuals per vacancy who meet the requirements set forth in subsection (f) and section 2129 of this title, and are willing to serve. 

“With respect to the appointment of a Board member in Category A, B, C, D, or E, such an appointment shall be by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, unless the President appoints an individual from a list, as provided in this subsection, in which case no Senate confirmation is required.”

 Tell me why    

“I think Carrión was ready to move on,” a source on Capitol Hill who was involved with the drafting of Promesa told Caribbean Business on Tuesday. “He was told that folks in the White House were working on finding replacements for him and others. But it really does not matter what the folks in the White House want because the law is clear that the leadership in the House and Senate have the power under the law to submit their lists for replacements after their terms expire.” 

Although the law explicitly states that “upon the expiration of a term in office, a member may continue to serve until a successor has been appointed,” the chief executive has only the power to select from lists that must be sent by the leaders on the Hill.

Section 2121 of Promesa reads: “(A) The President shall appoint the individual members of the Oversight Board, of which—the Category A member should be selected from a list of individuals submitted by the Speaker of the House of Representatives; (ii) the Category B member should be selected from a separate, non-overlapping list of individuals submitted by the Speaker of the House of Representatives; (iii) the Category C members should be selected from a list submitted by the Majority Leader of the Senate; (iv) the Category D member should be selected from a list submitted by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives; (v) the Category E member should be selected from a list submitted by the Minority Leader of the Senate; and (vi) the Category F member may be selected in the President’s sole discretion.”

The Capitol source sees congressional leadership losing sight of the fact that the law does require the vacancies for them to send lists to the Oval Office. 

“They are playing checkers when they should be playing chess; they don’t understand the law that they wrote,” the Capitol source said on the condition of anonymity. “The representatives are waiting for the other members to resign, when, according to the law, they could send letters to the president requesting to send lists of names to replace members.”

In a statement Wednesday announcing that he had informed the White House that he “will not be available for re-nomination for a second term,” and that he would step down Oct. 5 “or when the President and Congress appoint a successor, whichever happens first,” Carrión said: “PROMESA was and is an imposition upon Puerto Rico by the federal government. However, it is also a life preserver and a tool that has saved Puerto Rico from drowning in a sea of debt. It is certainly not perfect, but if properly used, it can continue to help our government to find its way out of its crippling public debt and to lay the foundation for a more prosperous future for generations of Puerto Ricans.”

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