Chair Grijalva, Reps. Velázquez and Soto Respond to Puerto Rico Fiscal Board Filing That Seeks to Block Lawmakers’ PREPA Amicus Brief
Washington D.C. – Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Small Business Committee Chair Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) responded yesterday to a filing by the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority that sought to block consideration of the amicus brief the trio of lawmakers filed last month. A federal judge is expected to rule as soon as this week on whether the lawmakers’ brief – which lays out the macroeconomic case on behalf of the people of Puerto Rico – will be considered in formal proceedings on debt restructuring for the Island.
If the judge agrees with the financial board and financial advisory authority, the lawmakers’ amicus brief will not be considered during proceedings on how best to restructure Puerto Rico’s debts. In yesterday’s response to those agencies, Grijalva, Velázquez, and Soto urged the judge to include their brief in trial proceedings and expressed their continuing opposition to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) Restructuring Support Agreement (RSA) in its current form because it would put most of the debt burden on working people and negatively impact economic development in Puerto Rico.
“Every decision made resulting from PROMESA should consider the quality of life and economic prosperity on the Island. Unfortunately, the current PREPA restructuring agreement supports neither,” Chair Grijalva said. “We won’t stand by as millions of U.S. citizens are taken for a ride by bondholders. We can and should choose a path that generates economic growth and financial stability, instead of significantly higher rates on the Island for decades to come.”
“The RSA, as currently structured, puts PREPA bondholders ahead of the people of Puerto Rico, and would further undermine the Island’s economy by raising electricity rates,” said Rep. Velázquez. “It would also undercut the longstanding goal of moving Puerto Rico toward a more sustainable, cleaner energy system. It is my hope the Court listens to the arguments in our brief and rejects this RSA so that we can instead work toward a PREPA restructuring that fuels Puerto Rico’s prosperity, rather than jeopardizing it.”
“Puerto Rico is in crisis,” said Rep. Soto. “Now is not the time to stand down and watch as the economic development our fellow Americans is jeopardized. We owe it to our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters to ensure the Island has a prosperous future.”
PREPA is the main provider of power to Puerto Rico, and the RSA will worsen Puerto Rico’s financial crisis. If approved, the RSA will provoke a decrease in demand for electricity, which will result in revenue loss for PREPA and the agency’s eventual dismantling.
Grijalva, Velázquez and Soto visited Puerto Rico in March as part of their #ListenToPuertoRico tour, where they spoke directly with community members. The lawmakers gathered information on failed federal recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Maria and on the ongoing economic and social impacts of fiscal austerity, which helped to inform the Amicus Brief.
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