Senator Orrin Hatch Speaks Up on Puerto Rico

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) spoke last week about Puerto Rico and his new bill, cosponsored by Senator Marco Rubio.

“Mr. President,” Senator Hatch began, “I am here today to discuss new legislation to help Puerto Rico gain a stronger fiscal footing.”

“Last Thursday I introduced a bill cosponsored by Senator Rubio entitled ‘The Puerto Rico Economic Empowerment Act of 2018,’ ” Hatch continued.”The bill works to help the people in Puerto Rico as they continue to face a stagnant economy and recover from massive damage called by recent hurricanes.”

Hatch described the bill as “a critical step towards resurrecting growth in Puerto Rico.” As previously reported in the Puerto Rico Report, the bill includes the following items:

  •  A payroll tax holiday for employees in Puerto Rico for two years, cutting their payroll taxes in half
  • Equal treatment with respect to the federal child tax credit for Puerto Rican families with one or two children to help families to reduce child poverty
  • Greater flexibility for Puerto Rico in Small Business Administration programs
  • Inclusion of Puerto Rico in many federal statistic surveys and the establishment of a federal statistical research data center in Puerto Rico

“These and other provisions in the bill follow recommendations of the Bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico,” said Hatch, referring to the task force which he chaired. “Not wanting that work to go to waste, Senator Rubio and I have been working hard to craft those proposals into this bill, and I am confident it truly embodies the purpose and bipartisan spirit of that bicameral task force.”

Hatch predicted that the provisions of the bill would add up to over $3.5 billion of relief for U.S. citizens, “fellow Americans in Puerto Rico.” Redirecting funds from the prevention and public health fund established under the Affordable Care Act is another source  of funding.

“I hope that all of my colleagues can join Senator Rubio and me in support of this bill,” said Hatch. “After all, our prior efforts have not solved many of the ongoing issues in Puerto Rico.”

Hatch pointed to PROMESA and the Fiscal Oversight Board, which he said has not been able to reduce legal disputes as expected. “The promise of voluntary debt resolutions has not been fulfilled even for a restructuring agreement between creditors and Puerto Rico’s power authority called PREPA, which had been agreed upon by both sides,” said Hatch. “The oversight board was also intended to oversee and monitor budgets for the various indebted arms of the government of Puerto Rico. On this front, I have also been disappointed as it seems that the oversight board has largely been operating in the dark.”

Hatch expressed frustration with the government of Puerto Rico as well, saying that he has been “waiting nearly three years for audited financial statements from Puerto Rico.”

He also described “disorganized and inconsistent accounting” and “attempts to politicize the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics.”

“Mr. President,” Hatch concluded, “I know that there is bipartisan support for our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico. Indeed, I heard a lot of support by members here on the floor following the devastating hurricanes that hit the island.”

“Nonetheless, I remain committed to working with anyone from either side to help and support the people of Puerto Rico. However, that work must involve compromise and mutual understanding of each other’s concerns.”

“I support greater transparency in the Puerto Rican government as well as the oversight board,” Hatch said. “I also support ongoing federal efforts, including those of the treasury department to carefully and closely monitor federal funds provided to Puerto Rico through disaster and other relief… Mr. President, let me end by reiterating that I want to work on a bipartisan basis and in the spirit of compromise with anyone here in this chamber to help our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico. Truly, theirs is an uphill battle as they continue to face many different add verities. That has been the case for years, and I hope we can set our partisan politicking aside and get to work.”

One Comment

Dennis Freytes

“Patriots’ Cry for Justice; a Call to Arms (Civic Action)–Equal Rights for ALL!”
IN SUM: Will you support-FAIRNESS-EQUAL RIGHTS for fellow US Citizens-American Veterans in the US Territory of Puerto Rico; a level Playing Field for all US Citizens or allow Federal discrimination?
• Facts are: 3.5 million fellow US Citizens-American Veterans in the federal undemocratic US Territory of Puerto Rico have a 2d Class US Citizenship because they don’t have all rights, earned benefits, responsibilities nor a permanent statuary US Citizenship… that other US Citizens have!
• US Congress, under the Territorial Clause, and per Insular Cases (1901-1925+)-controls the currency, border, economy, defense, foreign relations… Plus, imposes other un-fair burdens; hidden Taxes…
• The Federal Government must, with the Territorial Government, concurrently fix problem roots-PR’s “Economic-Job; Fiscal-Debt; Humanitarian-Infrastructure; Status-Equality CRISIS” (where each part affects the other; the Federal undemocratic Territorial Status affects everything)! Enough of ageless excuses/speculations that discriminate; are against the essence of our Representative Democracy System! UNITED with Truth, Reason, Courage, and Civic Action-WE will overcome!
-US Puerto Ricans-American Veterans fight for Equal Rights!-

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.