By Greg Williams
Congress has not acted on recommendations made by its Puerto Rico task force it implemented last year. The Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico was established by Congress last summer as a part of its "PROMESA" debt crisis legislation. The task force released its final report on December 21st.
"Unfortunately, we lost some momentum on action for Puerto Rico. Congress does still have a role to play in resolving the island's crisis," stated Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development organization Jubilee USA. In recent weeks, Jubilee USA visited more than 40 Congressional offices about legislative action to pass the recommendations. "In order to restructure Puerto Rico's debt and avoid some types of austerity, Congress needs to pass the bipartisan recommendations."
The task force gave extensive directives, including asking Congress to extend the Child Tax Credit to additional families in Puerto Rico, which could inject nearly $3 billion into the economy over the next decade. Currently on the island, only families with three or more children are able to claim the credit. It also called for Congress to give Puerto Rico equal treatment to the US mainland on Medicaid and Medicare funding.
"The task force's report is a blueprint for practical action for Puerto Rico," noted LeCompte. LeCompte's organization won an amendment to the PROMESA legislation that required the task force to address Puerto Rico's high child poverty rate. "Everyone has a role to play in resolving this terrible crisis and we need Congress to play its role as soon as possible."
The task force included Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Representative Sean Duffy (R-Wisconsin), Representative Tom MacArthur (R-New Jersey), Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida), Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), Representative Pedro Pierluisi (D-Puerto Rico) and Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-New York).