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U.S. Senate Finance Committee to Hold Hearing on Puerto Rico’s “Dire Financial Situation”

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The U.S. Senate Finance Committee announced late Tuesday that it will hold a hearing on Sept. 29 on the financial and economic challenges in Puerto Rico .

In his statement announcing the hearing, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), explained:

“The dire financial situation facing Puerto Rico’s economy and its citizens underscores the alarming consequences of crippling debt,” Hatch said in a press release announcing the hearings. “With outstanding debt greater than its economic output, the territory faces default unless a responsible long-term fiscal path forward is found. With this hearing, members of the Committee will have the opportunity to explore how the territory manages its finances and government-backed borrowing entities as well as the interplay between federal entitlement and tax programs and Puerto Rico.”

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee said witnesses would be announced at a later date. Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi announced Tuesday evening that he is one of four witnesses that have been asked to testify.

Pierluisi said he would recommend “concrete measures that can be taken on the local and federal levels to resolve the crisis.” He plans to discuss in his testimony “intelligent measures that can be implemented quickly and will have a tangible impact.”

“The 3.5 million American citizens that I represent in Congress are tired of studies, reports, plans and working groups. They are tired of empty promises and uninformed proposals. The want — and they deserve — action on the part of their political leaders in Washington and San Juan,” Pierluisi explained in a written statement.

Government Development Bank President Melba Acosta is expected to attend the hearing, according to an El Nuevo Dia newspaper report.

The hearing may also touch on the legislative proposal to extend chapter 9 to Puerto Rico’s public corporations, although bankruptcy is an issue under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.  The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over taxes, Medicare and Medicaid, three issues that may have greater prominence in the hearing next week.

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