Members of the House and Senate expressed a wide range of individual reactions to the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rossello. Some, like Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), congratulated the people of Puerto Rico for deposing Rossello. Marco Rubio (R-FL) took a similar position, saying, “The resignation of Ricardo Rosselló is an opportunity for Puerto Rico to emerge from this nightmare.”
Others took a longer view, acknowledging that Puerto Rico has been facing systemic challenges for longer than the current government has been in power.
Kamala Harris (D-CA) wrote this at Medium:
With Ricardo Rossello’s resignation, Puerto Rico can now begin to move forward and heal. But let’s speak truth, Puerto Rico has been suffering long before the hurricanes of 2017 and recent corruption scandals.
Congress needs to acknowledge and address the conditions that resulted in economic turmoil on the Island in the first place, correct policy disparities, and implement appropriate checks and balances to ensure economic stability and prosperity for all Puerto Ricans.
Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was one of those who looked toward the future, saying “When a new governor assumes office, we pledge to do everything possible to ensure that the people of Puerto Rico receive the help and support they need.”
Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR) also took the position that — whoever becomes the new governor of Puerto Rico — it will be important to support that individual and work toward stability for Puerto Rico.
Reactions beyond statements
The House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans doubled down on language intended to safeguard proposed Medicaid financing from fraud in legislation passed by the Committee last week. “The legislation we are moving forward with ensures that Puerto Rico Medicaid beneficiaries get the care they need while improving transparency, accountability, and integrity of the program that will help prevent this type of fraudulent activity from happening again,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), the most senior Republican on the Committee. Walden proposed the amendment, which includes additional reporting requirements as well as provisions for federal audits and oversight of contracts.
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, said firmly that Rossello’s resignation should not provide an excuse to hold up federal assistance for the territory.
“I don’t want the governance crisis that’s going on in Puerto Rico with the governor to be a reason that Congress, in particular Republicans, and the Trump administration use as an excuse to limit, restrict, and otherwise affect the aid and support and resources that Puerto Rico deserves in its reconstruction and in its ability to stabilize the fiscal crisis. This should not be an excuse. The people of Puerto Rico are at stake here. Not any particular individual that happens to be in the governor’s seat right now,” he said in a video statement.”I hope that the control board, the overseer in terms of fiscal stability, doesn’t see this as an opportunity to amass more unelected power over the lives of the people of Puerto Rico. That they prioritize the necessities: health, education and the welfare of the Puerto Rican people…The issue of status? We can discuss that. But I think Puerto Rico is speaking clearly. Their voices are being heard and certainly I and my colleagues on the committee have heard those voices and we intend to move forward.”