In an article at The Hill, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) reiterates his “commitment to work for a new Puerto Rico.” Grijalva is chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, which has responsibility for the territories of the United States, including Puerto Rico.
Grijalva began by acknowledging not only that Puerto Rico is facing difficult circumstances, but also that these problems are not solely the fault of Puerto Rico. “Puerto Rico is experiencing serious social, economic and political challenges. Too often, inadequate or badly designed federal policies – the barriers created by the White House to disburse federal disaster funds, the execution of PROMESA, and the resolution of the Island’s political status – have made it more difficult for the Puerto Rican people to address these challenges.”
Having visited Puerto Rico and listened to the people in general as well as to experts, Grijalva continued, he has prioritized the electric grid, healthcare funding, and the implementation of PROMESA so far in his tenure as chair of Natural Resources.
“I and several colleagues continue to oppose austerity measures and advocate additional resources for public education and health care services in Puerto Rico,” Grijalva said. He emphasized that he had paid attention to the protests in Puerto Rico and intends to continue to listen to Puerto Rico. He intends to visit the territory again to meet with municipal leaders.
“The committee will conduct a hearing to discuss potential PROMESA amendments and mechanisms to improve the effectiveness of reconstruction efforts,” he wrote. “The committee will seek feedback from think tanks, academic organizations, community groups and advocacy organizations at the hearing – and afterward – to determine the best way forward.”
“As chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, I commit to you that I will be directly involved in how we handle all matters related to Puerto Rico, and that hearings will be conducted at the full committee level. In the short term, the committee will continue to prioritize oversight of federal disaster recovery efforts and PROMESA implementation,” Grijalva concluded. “Once these matters have stabilized, I am committed to discussing the political status of the island.”