U.S. House passes legislation to promote Puerto Rico in federal procurement
SAN JUAN – The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday authored by Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) to help small businesses in Puerto Rico by incentivizing federal agencies to award them contracts.
The lawmaker, who is of Puerto Rican descent, included the provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Her legislation would “allow federal agencies to count double toward their statutory small business contracting goals, procurement dollars awarded to firms in Puerto Rico,” thus incentivizing federal agencies to employ Puerto Rican businesses, “helping create local jobs,” according to a release.
“By funneling federal contracting dollars to Puerto Rico we can help local businesses there grow, exactly when the Island most needs help,” Velázquez said, while explaining that 10 “months have passed since Hurricane Maria ravished Puerto Rico’s infrastructure, devastated the electrical grid and crippled the already languishing economy,”
Puerto Rico ranks 50 out of 56 among the U.S. states and territories were federal contracts are performed. Between fiscal years 2014 and 2015, the total awards of federal contracts to Puerto Rican small businesses declined by nearly $85 million, according to the lawmaker’s office.
“Federal procurement spending can be a powerful tool for stimulating local economic growth and, right now, Puerto Rico can use all the help it can get,” Velázquez added.
The NDAA package now moves to the Senate for consideration, “where it is expected to be approved in coming weeks,” according to the release.