A delegation from Puerto Rico including Governor Ricardo Rosselló, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón and Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz met with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. Michael S. Lee (R-UT), House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), and other members of Congress.
In these meetings, the focus was on two points:
- Puerto Rico’s need for federal healthcare funding
- The upcoming plebiscite on Puerto Rico’s political status.
Rosselló went on to meet with the officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“The disparity in healthcare allocations and the political status have to be addressed as a civil rights issue,” said Rossello in a statement. “This has been our emphasis.”
The statement also said that the delegation asked Speaker Ryan to commit “to achieve the decolonization of Puerto Rico. Faced with this request, Speaker Ryan acknowledged that the political status of Puerto Rico is a fundamental problem and it is important to deal with it in order to achieve the Island’s economic recovery.”
The governor updated members of Congress on the progress his administration has made in meeting the recommendations of the PROMESA fiscal oversight board and controlling government spending in Puerto Rico. He and González-Colón reminded them that equity in Medicaid funding has been recommended by many federal officials. They also explained how Puerto Rico’s political status as an unincorporated territory affects the Island’s economy.
Thomas Rivera Schatz, President of the Puerto Rico Senate, stated clearly the group’s objective was “to educate the members of Congress on the importance of solving the problem of political status to achieve the economic recovery of Puerto Rico.”
Jenniffer González-Colón added, “All parties agree that the current status is insufficient. We have the tools to end this inequality now, we have a consultation that even meets the last requirements of the federal Department of Justice. We are preparing Congress to jointly take swift action and enforce the will of the people of Puerto Rico.”
At the same press conference, Rosselló said, “We want to make sure the leadership in Washington knows what we are doing… We’re not here asking for blessing but informing Congress that the people of Puerto Rico are going to take action on status, and we expect action in Congress to follow.”
Rosselló also took the opportunity to urge Puerto Rican voters “to show the world that Puerto Rico wants to end its status as the oldest colony.”