Grijalva Urges Quick Action on Biden-Harris Plan for Puerto Rico

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ),chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, has written to President-Elect Biden asking him to take action on the Biden-Harris Plan for Puerto Rico.

After expressing congratulations on Biden and Harris’s victory, the letter begins, “The Committee on Natural Resources is the lead committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on matters related to U.S. Territories. We thank you and Vice-President-Elect Harris for developing the Biden-Harris Plan for Recovery, Renewal and Respect for Puerto Rico,” Grijalva wrote. “The residents of the island have been impacted by an ongoing fiscal crisis and economic depression, major hurricanes and earthquakes, and the COVID-19 pandemic. We write to underscore the importance of the new administration addressing the needs of the 3.2 million U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico and to respectfully request a rapid implementation of the Biden-Harris priorities for the island.”

The letter than goes on to outline some of the top priorities for the committee.

An active working group for Puerto Rico

Grijalva recently spearheaded an inquiry into the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico. In fact, the letter asking for the investigation drew attention to the fact that there was no active task force and that the administration had not taken the required action on Puerto Rico.

The request for a working group asked that such a group’s responsibilities “include providing advice to the President and the Congress on policies and initiatives for Puerto Rico’s fiscal recovery and disaster reconstruction.”

“This would provide much-needed Executive leadership on timely federal initiatives,” Grijalva said.

Puerto Rico’s political status

“For decades, Puerto Ricans have been considering different political status alternatives to the present territorial status with the United States,” the letter continues. “A future of renewal and respect is not possible without addressing the issue of Puerto Rico’s political status.”

The letter implicitly acknowledges that the status issue needs to be resolved, and that it is the responsibility of the federal government to take action.

Supporting full recovery, to modern standards

Grijalva’s letter calls for full support for Puerto Rico’s recovery and the rebuilding of the Island’s infrastructure to current standards.

“The federal response has been ineffective and slow, limiting the island’s long-term recovery,” Grijalva wrote. “With adequate federal policies, Puerto Rico can invest to rebuild its infrastructure and increase its resiliency to withstand future natural disasters.”

Congress may consider a broad infrastructure plan during the next congressional session.

Economic development

“Puerto Rico has been experiencing an economic crisis for more than a decade; poverty and unemployment rates are much higher in the U.S. Territory compared to the States,” the letter reminds readers. “Existing federal policies hamper Puerto Rico’s economic growth. With appropriate federal policies, Puerto Rico can develop a healthy and self-sufficient economy, and improve the quality of life of the residents of the island.

Debt relief

Grijalva reminds Biden that Puerto Rico said the level of debt was unsustainable in 2015, and that PROMESA had debt restructuring as a goal.

“Considering the major natural disasters that have affected the island and the COVID-19 pandemic,” says the letter, “the implementation of PROMESA needs a meaningful shift in approach to protect essential public services and pensions and reduce the island’s unsustainable public debt burden.”

Education

The letter calls for investment in schooling and in workforce development, pointing out that the hurricanes, earthquakes, and the pandemic have all had negative impacts on education in Puerto Rico.

“More than half of children on the island live below the federal poverty line and Puerto Rico is the jurisdiction with the highest percentage of students receiving special education services,” the letter points out. “The Federal government can increase investments in students and public schools in Puerto Rico to expand access to high-quality public education, ensure individual career services, and invest in public school infrastructure.

SSI eligibility

A court decision recently held that SSI, part of Social Security benefits, could not be withheld from eligible citizens simply because they live in Puerto Rico. The Trump Administration appealed the decision on the grounds that the government is not required to treat territories equally with states.

Grijalva asks that the Solicitor General support the right of Puerto Rico to SSI.

The letter concludes, “We look forward to partnering with you and Vice-President-Elect Harris to advance the Biden-Harris Plan for Recovery, Renewal and Respect for Puerto Rico. The new Biden-Harris administration represents a unique opportunity for the Federal government to demonstrate to the people of Puerto Rico that they deserve to be treated with dignity and an equal chance to get ahead.”

Grijalva Letter

2 Comments

Twoferengis

Of course, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) a democrat would cause American people and the people of Puerto Rico to the gutter. Do not believe the lies given from this evil person. Plus, this biden will NOT be elected as president.

Riosmend

Well so much for Biden, not being ellected! As for the rest, the jury has been empanelled. We’ll see the evidence! And deliver findings, within 24-30 months.

Puerto Rico does not have the luxury to sit back and wait for the 12th round bell to have its say. 3.5 million Americans, discriminated Americans, as has been said elsewhere, have since 2012-15, become aware that we’re bankrupt! But the National Bankrupcy Laws gives the local governnent No protection! It was stripped away, a few yrs before!

The Colonial government, in desperation attempted to ennact its “Criollo” Bankrupcy law. Oops! Federal preemption doctrine aplies! No defense! Where there’s a federal law that has jurisdiction over the matter, no local government can enact any law, to run parallel with the federal law! Not withstanding the fact that we have no protection under the law that is in place for all states jurisdictions.

We learned about mismanagement, government corruption, but we can’t audit the billions in debts! So in fact, WE, the people of PUERTO RICO, can be bilked! This, on top of Congressional law to administer our debt. Guess who we owe ? How Has the federal “junta”, rarther than the “over sight Committee”, who’s acronym is translated into “PROMESA” , which means in Spanish “PROMISE”, dealt with the matter? Closing schools, curtailing teachers, police and any and all government employee pension plans, reducing the colonial budget. The crux is the repayment of loans. Are they legal? We don’t have a clue!

Since 2017, till today we have been devastated by “MARIA”. The most ferocious huracane in a
Hundred yrs! 4,000 deaths, thousands homeless, no food or water! Then waves of Earthquakes! And, yes, finally COVIT-19! So, again, we don’t have options! Resilience, courage, the making public of our political, social and humane status, doesn’t give us food, shelter and the human dignity of 3.5 million American citizens to be free!

Sovereignty can be attained by the concession of statehood, or independence! Give us liberty or give us death. Colonial status has forever been a stamp to unhuman, the indignity of power to govern by the raw power of an imperial state. So, yes Mr. Biden has been ellected! Its about time! Now sir, treat us as if it were Trenton! Gracias por el foro!

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