Rep. Gutiérrez Tells Natural Resources Committee He Cannot Support PROMESA Bill on Puerto Rico
“If the genuine needs of Puerto Ricans are subjugated to the artificial privileges of wealthy speculators in the United States, this is not a bill I can support.”
Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) told his colleagues that he would not support the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) bill being marked up in the House Natural Resources Committee today. In a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member and all Members of the Committee, Rep. Gutierrez wrote, “In the last week I have examined the details and have found it comes up short.”
The bill was drafted and redrafted by the Committee to address the financial crisis gripping Puerto Rico and Rep. Gutierrez had initially indicated he was hoping to support the legislation which was reintroduced last week. However, Rep. Gutierrez, one of five Puerto Ricans in the Congress, said in his letter that after closer examination, “I cannot support this legislation because it runs counter to basic values of democracy, fairness and justice.”
Specifically, the Financial Oversight and Management Board, or control board, proposed in the legislation is too heavy handed for the Congressman and does not put the needs of the Puerto Rican above all other considerations. He wrote, “The profits and profiteering of investors are likely to be weighed as heavily or more heavily by the Board in its decision-making and that fails my test for what is needed for Puerto Rico.”
He also pointed to reductions in the minimum wage, the exemption from overtime rules, questionable protections for pensions earned by Puerto Rican workers, and expedited permitting of energy and construction projects without environmental checks as reasons he opposes the legislation.
“I did not come to Congress to take money out of the hands of working people and put in the pockets of investment bankers and bond-traders seeking an upper-class lifestyle,” the Congressman wrote. “If the genuine needs of Puerto Ricans are subjugated to the artificial privileges of wealthy speculators in the United States, this is not a bill I can support.”
He concluded: “My father and his father were born in Puerto Rico and I intend to die there some day. It saddens me that the help the people of my beloved Island need has been laden with policies that rob the people, threaten the homeland, and weaken their ability to determine their own future as a nation.”
Rep. Gutiérrez represents the Fourth District of Illinois, is a Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is a Member of the House Judiciary Committee, a Member of the Democratic Platform Committee, and is the Co-Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
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