Witness List Announced for U.S. House Feb. 2 Hearing on Federal Board for P.R.
SAN JUAN – The U.S. House Indian, Insular & Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Don Young (R., Alaska), has released the list of witnesses for its Feb. 2 hearing on the potential establishment of a federal fiscal control board on Puerto Rico.
Among the hearing’s witnesses is former Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams, who was the city’s chief financial officer when Congress established a fiscal control board in D.C. during the late 1990s. Also participating will be Carlos García, former president of the Government Development Bank during the administration of former Gov. Luis Fortuño. García is currently CEO, founder & managing partner of BayBoston, a minority-owned private equity firm.
Rounding out the list are James Spiotto, managing director of Illinois-based Chapman Strategic Advisors; Simon Johnson, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); and Thomas Moers, partner at New York-based Kramer Levin. The latter is a law firm representing two bondholder groups in their so-far-successful challenge to Puerto Rico’s locally enacted bankruptcy law, which now awaits for the U.S. Supreme Court to have a final say on its enforceability.
Titled “The Need for the Establishment of a Puerto Rico Financial Stability and Economic Growth Authority,” the latest congressional hearing was originally scheduled for Jan. 26. It marks the seventh time since last year that a Congress committee publicly discusses issues related to the island’s fiscal and economic crisis.
Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi said he expects Congress to finally unveil a legislative package aimed at tackling Puerto Rico’s fiscal and economic woes following the Feb. 2 hearing. He would support “meaningful federal oversight,” as long as it is paired with providing the commonwealth with access to a debt-restructuring regime and “better—that is, more state-like—treatment of Puerto Rico.”
The new House hearing follows a Jan. 12 one held by the Energy & Mineral Resources Subcommittee, where energy challenges affecting the commonwealth were discussed.
The commonwealth government is banking on congressional action, particularly on access to a debt-restructuring regime such as Chapter 9, as it tries to avoid additional defaults amid a debt-service schedule that becomes steeper this summer. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) has said the lower chamber aims to come up with a solution to the Puerto Rico issue before the end of March.