On December 17th, a number of Democratic lawmakers spoke about Puerto Rico on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Among them were senior Democrats Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), the highest ranking Democrat on the powerful Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the Democratic Whip and second most powerful Democrat in the House.
In speaking generally about the omnibus appropriations bill enacted by Congress, Rep. Lowey spoke expressed her disappointment about the failure of Congress to address Puerto Rico’s fiscal problems. As she explained: “It is especially disappointing that we could lift the oil export ban in this bill and, yet, we don’t address the urgent bankruptcy crisis facing Puerto Rico. It remains a priority to me and my Democratic colleagues, and we must continue all efforts to reach an agreement as soon as possible.”
Rep. Hoyer, a frequent proponent of expanding democratic rights to the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico, also pointed out that the omnibus legislation “fails to include language that will enable Puerto Rico to restructure its debt at no cost to the taxpayer, which is a resource the Puerto Rican Government deserves to avoid real harm to our citizens living on the island.” Hoyer added that Speaker Ryan “has indicated a willingness to work across the aisle on this early next year,” and that “[w]e must do so.”
The day following remarks by Lowey and Hoyer, Democratic House Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) introduced the Puerto Rico Emergency Financial Stability Act, to provide a short-term stay of legal actions by some of Puerto Rico’s creditors while Congress continues to debate bankruptcy protection for Puerto Rico.