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HF Responds to Congressional Republicans Inaction on Puerto Rico Economic Crisis

December 16, 2015 (New York, NY) – Hispanic Federation has released the following statement in response to the exclusion of bankruptcy protections for Puerto Rico in Congress’ Omnibus Spending Bill.

“We join millions of Puerto Ricans on the island and throughout the Puerto Rican diaspora in expressing our disappointment and outrage that the U.S. Congress’ Omnibus Spending Bill failed to include bankruptcy protections and other measures to aid Puerto Rico during its economic crisis. Despite the clear, bleak reality facing the U.S. Commonwealth and the advocacy of thousands of Americans who have called on Washington to act, Congress has missed its best opportunity to assist Puerto Rico and has turned its back on 3.5 American citizens who call the island home. Sadly, Congressional Republicans systematically refused to accept their moral, fiscal and legal obligations to represent and fight for millions of American citizens in Puerto Rico who now face an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

The House and Senate Republican leadership completely disregarded uniform calls – including by the U.S. Department of Treasury – to grant Puerto Rico bankruptcy and debt restructuring powers. They also failed to fairly and completely remedy the longstanding structural inequities that leave Puerto Rican health care underfunded, passing only minimal health care reforms that do not adequately address the looming health care funding shortfall that threatens to shut down a vital safety net and major economic engine for Puerto Ricans.

In the aftermath of this failure by Congress, Puerto Rico is left to fend for itself. With massive, looming debt payments due in the coming weeks, Congress has essentially forced Puerto Rico’s government to adopt even more austerity measures and shut down vital public services. The message from Congressional Republicans seems clear: Puerto Rico does not matter.

But the facts as they are dictate that Congress will eventually come to understand that Puerto Rico does matter and that this crisis is not going away. The people of Puerto Rico, all 3.5 million American citizens, are not going away. We are not going away. Through the incredible leadership of our Puerto Rican members of Congress, and the thousands of community, labor, government, and faith leaders who have joined forces over the past few months, we have seen the true power of collaboration, in what has become a national movement aimed at holding Congress accountable for the American citizens living in Puerto Rico.

While Congress’ actions are a setback, we have strong allies in this fight, and together with them we will continue to fight until Congress provides Puerto Rico with the aid it so desperately needs. We will organize. We will mobilize voters. We will make our voices heard in the Capitol. We will continue to fight for justice for Puerto Rico.”

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