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Pierluisi Appointed to Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico

By on July 15, 2016

Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi announced that he has been appointed by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to the “Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico,” which was established by Section 409 of Public Law 114-187, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (Promesa). In addition to Pierluisi, Pelosi appointed Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez of New York to the Task Force.

FILE - In this May 25, 2016 file photo, Puerto Rico's Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, D-Puerto Rico, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, during a House Natural Resources Committee markup hearing on H.R. 5278, Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act. House Republican leaders and President Barack Obama pressured lawmakers in both parties to back legislation to help ease Puerto Rico’s financial crisis as the U.S. territory faces a $2 billion debt payment in just over three weeks. The House is scheduled to begin debate Thursday, June 9, 2016, on a bill that would create a financial control board and restructure some of Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt. Pierluisi, is supporting the bill despite opposition from other lawmakers on the island. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, D-Puerto Rico.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

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 Leader 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 December 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 September 1, 2016 and September 15, 2016.

The Task Force is authorized to hold hearings.  If the Task Force 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 (DDEC, for its Spanish-language acronym).

According to Section 409, “to the greatest extent practicable, the report . . . shall reflect the shared views of all eight members, except that the report may contain dissenting views.”

Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President and gubernatorial candidate David Bernier said he approved of the appointments. “Both know the need for Congress to provide tools to drive economic development…, an essential element to launch the fiscal recovery of Puerto Rico,” he said in a written statement.

“Both will be able to count on my collaboration and that of the workgroup for fiscal stability and economic recovery I have appointed so that together with the federal fiscal control board we achieve, in the shortest time possible, putting our economy on its feet, carry out the necessary fiscal and government restructuring, and restore and expand self-government.”

“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.  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,” added the Resident Commissioner.

In a press release announcing her appointments to the Task Force, Leader Pelosi stated:  “Puerto Rico has seen no stronger advocate in a Resident Commissioner than Pedro Pierluisi.  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.  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.”


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