tv U.S. House of Representatives Legislative Business CSPAN June 9, 2016 4:00pm-6:01pm EDT
military conflict since world war i. now these citizens need our help. this is a responsibility we cannot ignore. you see, when the united states took puerto rico and, remember, we did not just obtain a pretty island, we also took on a responsibility to care for the people who live there. now, will the me say this -- let me say this, living up to that responsibility does not end with this vote on this bill today. decisions made by washington over decaded has corroded puerto rico's economy. it will require more work by congress. until we end the colonial
conditions that have subjugated and exploited the island, there will be no long-term recovery. so this bill alone is not enough. we must pass additional legislation in the next six months. addressing puerto rico's deep-seeded economic challenges and ongoing health care crisis. if we do not, then, washington, we have failed the people of puerto rico once more. mr. chairman, this is not the legislation i would have written, but it is the only way we can extend a lifeline to puerto rico right now. in many ways, the easy path for me to vote no. secondly i heard the case made by some in the puerto rican community. the chair: the gentlelady's time
has expired. mr. grijalva: i yield an additional minute. ms. velazquez: at the end of the day, i know that this if this bill does not pass, people that i care about and live on the island that i grew up will suffer debately. at least with this legislation puerto rico can restructure its debt and work towards a brighter future. vote yes for the bill and please join in working me to address the long-term challenges. let me thank all those who worked on this legislation, especially leader pelosi, speaker ryan and whip hoyer and thank ranking member and the chairman for their efforts as well as my puerto rican members of congress. and of course, our thanks to the staff who dedicated timeless hours crafting this compromise.
i yield back. the chair: the gentleman from utah. mr. bishop: i'm pleased to recognize the gentleman from florida, the southern tip of minutes, or two curbelo. tive mr. curbelo: i thank chairman bishop and representative duffy, who have shown steadfast leadership in finding practical solutions to address the fiscal crisis in puerto rico. the situation in puerto rico is urgent and so is the need for a responsible reform agenda. hundreds of thousands of citizens have left the island and many have come to florida to find better opportunities as a result of the deteriorating conditions. our friends in puerto rico, our fellow american citizens,
deserve a better future, one that gives them the chance to achieve prosperity on the island. this is an important step forward in mitigateing the existing humanitarian emergency in a responsible way. the bill allows the congressional task force to look at impedements to economic growth and poverty reduction including access to federal health care programs for the island's residents. serious challenges remain in the health care sector, like the impending medicaid cliff that could have a detrimental impact on the future of the island. i also urge my colleagues to vote in favor of my amendment with mr. jolly that will address the nearly 60% of children living in poverty on the island is a top priority. as we work to achieve economic stability on the island, we must
also ensure that the mechanisms in this bill benefit the extremely vulnerable child population. congress has an important interest in ensuring that puerto rico not only survives the current crisis, mr. chairman, but it is able to build a better and more sustainable future. again, i'm very supportive of the bipartisan solutions in h.r. 5278 and i urge my colleagues to vote in favor of the bill and my amendment which addresses child poverty on the island. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from arizona. mr. grijalva: i yield to the gentleman from maryland, our whip, mr. hoyer. the chair: how much time? mr. grijalva: three minutes. mr. hoyer: i thank the gentleman for yielding, at the outset, rarely do we see the political courage and intellectual integrity that we have seen in
the gentlelady from new york, ms. velazquez, and i have worked with her for months trying to get a solution fair to puerto rico and fair to the 3.5 million american citizens who live in puerto rico. i also wants to thank my friend, jose serrano, also from new york, also puerto rican, also having thought about this extraordinarily thoughtfully and it's been difficult. i want to congratulate both of them for coming to the decision that is a terribly difficult one for them that this is at this juncture the only alternative, to the pain and the suffering of which ms. velazquez spoke. i'm sure the citizens of puerto rico are watching this debate and they understand this is not a perfect bill.
it's not the bill i or mr. pierluisi, who lost an election in my view, because of his fidelity to what he believes is the island's best interest. it forces puerto rico to take ome bitter medicine, accept an oversight board that is unacceptable to many living on the island and does not provide additional assistance to the island that is critically needed and ought to be done. hopefully we can address that. it is a compromise and will enable the commonwealth of puerto rico to restructure its debt and prevent economic catastrophe. i can assure both sides of the aisle in this chamber and in the senate that it is a compromise forged out of serious consideration of all possible alternatives that could result in bipartisan agreement.
we must not risk the cost of further inaction by this congress, which should have acted months ago, but it is not too late to do the right thing. congress must act before puerto rico's next interest payment is due on july 1. according to the "new york times" editorial board, quote, this bill has flaws. i think both sides would agree to that. but at this late date, the "new york times" went on, it offers the island its best chance of survival. it is therefore, mr. speaker, my advice and urging to our members that we vote for this bill. we need to come together and pass this bill without any coversial riders. again, i want to thank
representatives velazquez, serrano and resident commissioner pierluisi for their courage and integrity. mr. chairman, we need to pass this bill for the american citizens living in puerto rico and to meet the responsibility of which ms. velazquez spoke so eloquently and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from arizona reserves. the gentleman from utah is recognized. mr. bishop: thank you, mr. chairman, your southern idaho accent got more southern. i would like to recognize the .entleman from arkansas mr. westerman: i rise in support of h.r. 5278. i thank the the gentleman from wisconsin and the chairman in crafting this legislation. h.r. 5278 is a compromised bill
designed to save puerto rico from economic calamity and i suggest that the admission from both sides of the aisle that this bill isn't perfect is a testament that this is the best solution. the territory has missed payments on its debt and more and larger mispayments are on the horizon. the fiscal and economic conditions of puerto rico are unsustainable. based on the constaugs neal delegated power of congress to dispose of and make rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the united states, we have a responsibility to take action on this matter. this unsustainable debt burden brought on by poor decisions, unfulfilled promises and bad developments has crippled their economy. and since puerto ricans are
american citizens, thousands of young people come to the mainland each year to find work. puerto rico is spiraling out of control and it's our constitutional responsibility to put our territory on a different path and change the economic trajectory. h.r. 5278 establishes a seven-member oversight board that will will have the authority to establish budgets for the territory, require the scoring of legislation for the people of puerto rico know the true cost of government programs and the power to veto contracts and executive orders. once again, i would like to thank congressman duffy and chairman bishop in crafting a bill to get puerto rico on the right track without a taxpayer bailout. i urge my colleagues to support h.r. 5278 and to lay a foundation for a brighter future in puerto rico without spending taxpayer dollars. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from utah reserves. the gentleman from arizona is
recognized. mr. grijalva: i yield three minutes to the gentleman from new york, mr. serrano. the chair: the gentleman from new york is recognized for three minutes. mr. serrano: i thank the gentleman. when we started these negotiations with both sides wanting to do something with both leaderships in the house, wanting to do something, i knew at the end of the day, i would be voting for a bill. i knew i had to do that for very simple reasons. inactivity, inaction was not an option. the only option was to do a bill. what that bill would look like was my question. what that bill would look like was my challenge and my dilemma. the bill changed. the original bill had some provisions that no one could defend on either side, but we
have made a bill now that does have some hard pills to swallow, but over $70 billion in debt with no signs of being able to pay is even more of a bitter pill to swallow. the territory is hurting. the people are hurting. in fact, if anything comes out of this that is positive is the fact that the u.s. congress is paying attention to puerto rico in a way that it hasn't in a long, long time, if at all. we are paying attention and we want to do something about the situation at hand. we are not supposed to direct our comments to the gallery or to the tv cameras, so i won't do that. but there are people watching this and they need to have faith in the fact that both parties have come together to come together with a plan that will help us, a plan that will bring
puerto rico back out of this debt situation and most importantly, i believe there is a commitment on both sides to work on economic development projects for the future to help puerto rico and its economy. but i couldn't get off this podium today without addressing my most important issue, and that is that the problem with the o rico continues to be status. as long as it is a territory of the united states, these issues will come back and other issues will come back. i want someone to go sarcastically or profoundly say, all we were doing is putting a band-aid on a bigger problem. well, there is a bigger problem. and i think it's time congress came together with the people of puerto rico and decided to end the colonial status.
but ending the colonial status does not mean tweaking the colony to make it be better or washing the face of the colony to make it more presentable, it means become a state or independent nation. there is no other solution. and for us, as the people who promote democracy throughout the world, for us to have a colony for 118 years is wrong. and remember, puerto rico didn't do this by itself. the indifference and ineality created this problem as much as everything else. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from arizona reserves. the gentleman from utah. mr. bishop: i yield two minutes to the gentleman from idaho. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. labrador: thank you for the work you have done on this
critical piece of legislation and i want to thank my staffer, erin, for his work in my office to make this a better bill. we have worked countless hours to improve this bill and i'm proud of the work we have done. . . i rise and support h.r. 5278. the debt crisis in puerto rico is the result of years of liberal policies where the government carelessly borrowed and overspent while simultaneously encouraging mismanagement and inefficiency. we cannot view puerto rico's situation -- put puerto rico's situation in a vacuum. this will impact the rest of our nation. the bill imposes fiscal reforms without spending a single dollar of u.s. taxpayer money to relieve puerto rico's debt. the bill protects packs pears from bailing out a -- taxpayers from bailing out a government that spent recklessly and
avoids setting a horrible precedent that could attempt free-standing states to walk away from their obligations. specifically, h.r. 5278 establishes a strong oversight board to require puerto rico to balance its budget and achieve fiscal responsibility. the bill includes language that ensures that the fiscal plans and any potential restructuring must honor lawful priorities as guaranteed by puerto rico's constitution and laws. every state and municipality in this country relies on bond markets to provide funding for government operations. h.r. 5278 creates the balance that will effectively address the needs of puerto rico while ensuring access to these markets for states and municipalities nationwide. in conclusion, as a person who was born and raised in puerto rico and somebody who's very proud of his puerto rican
heritage, i love the people. i love the island, and i hope that this bill sets them on the path to fiscal responsibility and a brighter future. the house must pass this bill to establish the necessary framework to help puerto rico put its fiscal house in order while also protecting the interest of every american. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from utah reserves. the gentleman from arizona is recognized. mr. grijalva: thank you very much. at this point i'd like to yield five minutes to the resident commissioner of puerto rico, mr. pierluisi, who at great risk politically continues to push for this compromised bill we have before us and for that we're grateful. the chair: the gentleman from puerto rico is recognized for five minutes. mr. pierluisi: thank you, ranking member grijalva. i represent puerto rico in congress and i rise in support of promesa. puerto rico is at a crossroads.
since 1898 puerto rico has been a territory of the united states subject to the broad powers of congress under the territory clause. in 1917, congress conferred u.s. citizenship on individuals born in puerto rico. in the 1950's, congress authorized and approved a constitution for puerto rico which provides the island with a republican form of government, consisting of three branches. because puerto rico is a territory, my constituents have never been treated equally relative to their fellow u.s. citizens in the states. in terms of either democratic rights or economic opportunities. in large part, to compensate for the lack of fair treatment at the federal level, the puerto rico government has spent beyond its means at the local leaving, leading to excessive deficits and debt. this lack of discipline is regrettable, but understandable . since the puerto rico
government is seeking to provide a quality of life to island residents comparable to the quality of life in the states, bear in mind that my constituents can hop on a plane anytime, any day and move to florida or texas -- any time, any day and move to florida or texas. the bill we're considering today, promesa, is a bipartisan grow mize intended to deal with the -- compromise intended to deal with this that will restructure its public debt in a fair and orderly manner while establishing a temporary oversight board to ensure that puerto rico has a viable long-term fiscal plan and balanced budgets and it sticks to both. in an emergency, the first step is to stabilize the situation, and i believe promesa can accomplish this objective. without this legislation, the puerto rico government is likely to collapse.
participants in public pension plans will be terribly harmed and many bond holders could lose their investments. promesa is in the interest of all stakeholders and the most likely alternative is chaos, litigation, rapidly deteriorating quality of life in puerto rico and even greater migration to the states. however, let me be plain. this bill is an essential first step, but it is not an enduring solution. the federal government and indeed the puerto rico government must come to terms .ith a fundamental fact so long as my constituents are treated as second-class citizens, puerto rico will never have a first-class economy. puerto rico must become a full and equal member as a state which is a logical next step or
they must join the community of nations as a sovereign country. puerto rico deserves true democracy and true dignity, nothing less. yet, first things come first. we have to deal with this immediate crisis. we have to save the house in puerto rico. vote yes on h.r. 5278. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from arizona reserves. the gentleman from utah is recognized. mr. bishop: thank you, mr. chairman. i, too, would like to express my appreciation and sincere gratitude to the resident commissioner from puerto rico for all his hard work. i may be known as the historian of this body but i would like to yield to the gentleman from oklahoma a second to give a historical perspective, if i could, two minutes to mr. lucas from oklahoma. the chair: the gentleman from oklahoma is recognized for two minutes. mr. lucas: thank you, mr. chairman. i rise today to note there is only a handful of my colleagues on the floor in the body who were here when the precedent for this process was set in
1995. some of my colleagues on this side of the room argue we are setting a new precedent. we are not. some of you remember 1994 when i came as a new member in a special election. some of you may remember the economic chaos, the near collapse of the district of columbia and the city of washington. some of you may remember how we were told in those days, you can't go into certain parts of town because it's not safe. the stories about how a high percentage, if not almost half the police cars would not run at any one time. i remember waking up one july night and looking out the fifth window of my apartment building i was in as the firemen were hosing down a spot not many paces from the corner of first and d street where someone had been killed, literally within hundreds of feet of the federal campus. washington, d.c., the district of columbia was about to collapse into chaos, 1994.
so what did we do in 1995? we passed a bill very similar to this, set up a superadvisory board, took control of the finances to help right the ship. for two years there were tremendously painful decisions made here in washington, d.c., at the municipal level. but after those two years we had four years of balanced budgets, and the control act, as it was called, was suspended. it was successful and the renaissance this town, this community has gone through all started with that bill in 1995. now, i'm voting for this piece of legislation because i believe my fellow american citizens who live in puerto rico deserve the right to have a renaissance, deserve the right to move forward. but we're all members of elected bodies and we know how tough these decisions and situations are. pass this bill, create the
superadvisory board, give the good citizens of puerto rico, the commonwealth the chance to benefit just as washington, d.c., did. they deserve the chance. i yield back, mr. chairman. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from utah reserves. the gentleman from arizona is recognized. mr. grijalva: thank you very much, mr. chairman. i yield to the gentleman from illinois, mr. gutierrez, three minutes. the chair: the gentleman from illinois is recognized for three minutes. mr. gutierrez: mr. speaker, i rise in opposition to this legislation. the people of the enchanted island deserve better. it is my duty to my heritage and to the land where i intend to return someday and where someday i intend to be buried. as president obama said so profoundly when he visited the land of his father's birth, kenya, a nation with a struggle for freedom against the colonial people, i, too, louis gutierrez, am deeply connected to my father's birth -- luis
gutierrez, am deeply connected to my first's birthplace. i can't go to puerto rico or to the puerto rican people in my district with my head held high. i cannot and will not, not when i know the majority of votes that will pass this legislation if it passes today will come from the democratic party, a party that for all its flaws is a party i expect a lot more from in times like this. at a moment in american history where latinos are quite literally being dragged through the mud against the other party and distrusted and disrespected because where their parents and grandparents were born, i intend them to stand up for the entire island of puerto rico are held in the hands of the u.s. congress. by law they do not have a vote here. by law they need others to vote on their behalf. by law puerto rico belongs to, is property of but not part of the united states. by law this congress owns puerto rico and must treat that
ownership as stewardship as a caring and respectful seat of power over the powerless. and because it is the democratic party that will supply so many votes to enact this bill, i expect my colleagues to demand more. i expect us not to support a subminimum wage. i expect us not to waive overtime rules that pay people for the work they do. i expect my fellow democrats to stand up for equity and equality, for puerto ricans and our tax code and medicare and health care so they don't have to flee puerto rico to go to orlando or newark or chicago. i expect my democrats to join me in opposing the same type of unelected control board that has no accountability to the people that it is controlling. the kind of control board focused on austerity without examining the consequences of their action for the people. the kind of control board that made decisions in flint, michigan. flint, michigan, that poisoned the people that they were not ever elected. the -- to remedy the situation
until other governments of other elected leaders accountable to the people they govern had to step up and begin addressing. let me say i'll offer a ranslation in spanish. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from arizona reserves. the gentleman from utah is recognized. mr. bishop: i'm pleased to yield two minutes to one of the co-sponsors of this bill, the gentleman from wisconsin, mr. sensenbrenner. the chair: the gentleman from wisconsin is recognized for two minutes. mr. sensenbrenner: thank you, mr. chairman. i went to puerto rico in march. i've been involved in
negotiating this at the request of the speaker literally since the first of this year. this is difficult. this is something that nobody's happy with. this is something where everybody's going to take a haircut because the depth of the problem is so bad. nd what we heard right after this congress began its session this year is, why not give them a super chapter 9 bankruptcy? that would have been bad for the future of puerto rico because super chapter 9 would have dumped the $72 billion of debt and had it wiped out, and there is no way that puerto rico having stiffed $72 billion worth of bondholders would ever have been able to access the bond market again. and the bond market access is essential to any type of state
or municipal financing. so what do we have? a choice of doing nothing? and we heard about the severe consequences if we do nothing. or going with something that worked in the district of columbia? which is the oversight board. now, sure, they're unelected. one of them has to be from puerto rico, but the puerto rican government, which has been elected, is the one that caused this problem to begin with. . they have increased just about every spending on the island except debt service and borrowed more and more and more and wouldn't appropriate the money to service the debt. that's why we're here today and that's what has got to be fixed. it should be fixed with an oversight board working in conjunction with the puerto
rican government, not by a court or simply by not doing anything. and it can be fixed and puerto rico can have a renaissance, because this is about the only practical way out of the mess. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from utah reserves. the gentleman from arizona is recognized. mr. grijalva: thank you. at this point i would like to yield to the gentlelady from new york, mrs. maloney. the chair: the gentlelady is recognized. mrs. maloney: i rise in strong support of h.r. 5278. this bill is not a perfect bill, but it is a true bipartisan compromise and it is the only option on the table to address the crisis in puerto rico, which is the home to 3.5 million american citizens. the solution to this bill adopts
is simple. it would allow puerto rico to restructure its debt in a supervised process and in exchange, a temporary, a temporary federal oversight board will help puerto rico make the structural reforms necessary to get its finances in order and set it on the path of economic growth. and i would like to truly thank all parties for their hard work on this bill, especially mr. pierluisi and my good friends from new york, my colleagues velazquez and serrano, ranking member, the chairman and nancy pelosi and new york city which i represent has some experience with control boards. when we faced a fiscal crisis, the state established two control boards and while that was a tough pill to swallow in
the long run, it made our city better and stronger. i would like to emphasize that the solution to new york city's fiscal crisis involved a control board, a debt restructuring and a $2.3 billion loan from the federal government. puerto rico isn't getting any federal money at all. so a debt restructuring law is really the least we can do to help them. finally, while some opponents of this bill blame on this floor that debt restructuring is unnecessary because congress solved d.c. fiscal crisis in the 1990's with just a control board, that is untrue. the way the control board was able to balance is because treasury assumed the district's
impending obligations the year after the control board was created. so a control board by itself is not enough. we need to do more, but i urge my colleagues to support this bill and i yield back and request permission to revise and stepped my remarks. the chair: the gentlelady's time has expired. the gentleman from utah is recognized. mr. bishop: i yield three minutes to the gentleman from. >> we know about the crisis in puerto rico involving 3.5 million citizens and we know the cause, fiscal mismanagement resulting in $120 billion of nds and unfunded pension liabilities. unemployment is two times what it is here on the mainland and people are fleeing puerto rico in droves, especially young people. it's not sustainable. mr. chairman, we decided as a
society hundreds of years ago that we weren't going to throw debtors into prison but allow for the orderly organization of debts but puerto rico doesn't have the basic laws that allow it to take place in this situation. this bill fixes that. this bill puts equal pressure on nd holders, on the island of puerto rico. the bill will require them to work together or there will be consequences and the bill brings an oversight board to help that happen to even require that to happen. we have to do this. but, mr. chairman, fixing the debt crisis alone is not going to fix puerto rico's future. we need growth initiatives. this island will not enjoy enduring prosperity until this congress also thinks about how to help puerto rico grow. that's why i introduced a title to this bill, it's just a sense
of congress but puts a flag in the ground saying we have more work to do on growth. and i'm pleased to see a growth commission included in the bill. mr. chairman, i spent a lifetime in business and had the privilege of creating thousands of jobs. that doesn't happen when you have uncertain conditions. mr. macarthur: in 1996, we changed the tax code in puerto rico that treats the return of earnings from that island to the mainland like it's coming from a foreign country and you can watch the growth rate of puerto rico plummet ever since. ever since 2006, you can see the growth rate plummet over 20 years. manufacturing is still half of the island's economy and yet it's reduced by half over the last 20 years. we have to do things that make puerto rico an attractive business environment.
we are worried about offshoring. this is the opportunity for nearshoring in a u.s. territory. it's an opportunity to demonstrate pro-growth principles in action. to allow puerto rico, an island paradise to become an economic miracle, this is the opportunity that i see. i'm proud of the bill like any bill, it's not perfect, but let's not let the perfect become the enemy of the good. it's a good bill that deserves our support and i urge my colleagues to vote yes. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from arizona is recognized. mr. grijalva: let me yield one to her leader pelosi time and commitment to the pell of puerto rico and working on a compromise have been the primary drivers to this point and to the bill we have before us, and i yield one minute. the chair: the gentlelady from
california is recognized. ms. pelosi: i rise and commend the leadership of chairman bishop. thank you, mr. bishop, for bringing us here today as well as our ranking member, mr. grijalva in bringing this compromise to the floor. join in deep pride that i representatives velazquez and serrano in support of this legislation although we had some concerns about some elements of it, we support it on balance. i can't help but mention to my colleagues here that in april, many of you were there when congress bestowed the congressional gold medal on the infantry regular meant, a largely puerto rican regular meant that served with valor. honor and fidelity, so rings the
motto of this courageous regular meant, with honor and fidelity, they overcame prejudice and bigotry and wrote a new chapter of heroism. in the panama canal zone in world war i, on the doorsteps of nazi germany and the korean war d beyond, they protected freedom abroad and advanced dignity at home. their daring on the battlefield helped break down the discrimation. they enriched our nation with the strength of their service, the excellence of their example and the power of their bravery. their valor under fire is nothing short of legendary. the historyic set is one of the true great american stories. i bring this to mind because on that day in emancipation hall which was crowded with people
d the presentations led by bipartisan, bicameral, house and senate, republican and democratic leadership, representatives of our military, to salute the bravery of these people from puerto rico in defense of our country. now we have nearly 100,000 veterans in puerto rico who will be affected, harmed, unless we act today. today, more than three million of our fellow american citizens in puerto rico are facing a fiscal and public debt emergency that threatens their economy and their communities and their families. only congress can provide puerto rico with the tools it needs to emerge from this crisis. after long bipartisan negotiations, we have a restructuring process that meets the test of work. does it work? will it happen? this is not a bailout.
some people are trying to describe it as such for for other purposes. i know my colleague from puerto rico, he has explained to us the urgency of this. i know we would have had a bill that perhaps that didn't have the provisions that are in it and would have preferred to add some better things to the bill. but that's not the choice before us. and as legislators, we have to make the choice. is what worked in the bill to alleviate the challenge that the people of puerto rico are facing. ur resident commissioner pierluisi does think this bill achieves that and i thank him for his courageous leadership on all of this. again, this can be a very passionate discussion.
it's an emotional one because it involves the lives of people that some of us know and are part of the families of our members. but we have to be dispassionate in how we make a judgment about how we can solve the problem. and we have that opportunity today. the oversight board that president obama will appoint is one that will have the opportunity to implement the restructuring as described in this legislation. on a bipartisan basis, we will be submitting names to the president promptly so that he can appoint the oversight board. it would be my commitment to make sure that the commitment from the house democrats is one who from puerto rico representing people of puerto rico on that board.
in addition to the oversight board, this legislation also contains a task force, a members task force. whose task it is is to look at impedements in federal law to promote puerto rico's economic growth. and i hope it would afford us the opportunity to see other ways that we can help the economic growth of puerto rico, to the citizens, our fellow citizens in puerto rico. talk about parity in relationship to medicaid, medicare and the rest and earned income tax credit, which we enjoy in the united states and having that be more available in puerto rico, talk about ways to more e tax code to give opportunity there. and so, i urge my colleagues to support the legislation, even though it is not -- either side would have written.
it's a compromise. but it will provide the people of puerto rico the tools to overcome the crisis and move forward. hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe a billion dollars a year, it will alleviate puerto rico from having to commit because of the restructuring, will enable it to meet the needs of the people of puerto rico as it gets back on its feet. puerto rico's economic success is important to the united states. our economic and job creation plans -- our economic growth and job creation plans must include our fellow citizens in puerto rico. i would hope with the task force, i would hope with future legislation as we go forward, we will recognize how close our connection is, how important it is for puerto rico to survive and express our gratitude to the people of puerto rico for the vitality they bring to the
united states of america and for the security that so many puerto ricans risk their lives to protect our country. with that, i urge our colleagues to pray over it and conclude as ur colleagues, congresswoman velazquez and congressman serrano that on balance we must move forward for the citizens of puerto rico. i urge an aye vote and urge -- and i yield back. the chair: the gentlelady yields back. the gentleman from arizona reserves. the gentleman from utah is now recognized. mr. bishop: mr. bishop: mr. speaker, let's see if i can do it in four minutes. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for four minutes. mr. bishop: thank you. appreciate the comments that have been made so far on a bill that i think actually has a lot of good in it. article 4, section 3 of the
constitution gives congress not only the power but also the responsibility to do what is needful dealing with the territories. as a matter of fact, mr. chairman, just this morning the supreme court ruled on a case concerning the territory on a question of double jeopardy and by the 6-2 decision, they held it's not a separate sovereignty because the ultimate source of its power is the united states congress. so indeed, this reminds us all here today of our duty to assist in the territory issues. now, there are seven titles to this particular piece of legislation. the first two deal with the oversight board that will bring fiscal plans and a budget to the island. titles 3 and 6 deal with restructuring of the debt if certain criteria are met in the oversight board's discretion that include full debt negotiations with the creditors. title 5 gives fast track authority for vital
infrastructure projects to be moved by the government of puerto rico, especially in the area of energy generation and distribution systems. one of the problem of puerto rico is the high energy that's cost them to lose jobs. what we're attempting to do is try and find a way of changing that problem and giving and reducing puerto rico's reliance upon diesel fuel to generate their electricity. that's one of the parts of the bill that's extremely important, i think it's overlooked sometimes. look, this particular bill, the final title i'm happy about because it has pro-growth portions and reforms in it. but let it be very clear, this is a conservative bill that's rooted in the constitution, that does not cost the american taxpayers a dime. it's not a bailout. it does not expand the size or scope of the federal government and it does not encroach on state authority. in fact, i think we've done a pretty good job in trying to solve some problems in a way that will move everyone forward. at this point i want to thank
the chairman of the education and work force, small business and judiciary committees for their help on this particular bill. chairman kline, chairman goodlatte, chairman chabot, i thank you for your work on this particular bill. i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from utah reserves. the gentleman from arizona is recognized. mr. grijalva: thank you. at this point in closing, let first of all thank leader pelosi and my colleague, chairman bishop and his staff and certainly staff on our side of the aisle for their hard work. it is a bill that is indeed a compromise. we shouldn't be ashamed of that. i want to -- it's a compromise that i wish was more tilted on our side and the things that we wanted, but, mr. speaker, those are not the dynamics or the numbers in this house. the reality is that the urgency
in puerto rico, the humanitarian demands, needs of he island make us look at this bill, not with an eye toward perfection but an eye toward what is doable and what can provide some immediate relief and begin the process of stability for the island and for its people and begin the process of an economic renewal for the island itself. i want to also acknowledge and thank my colleagues mr. pierluisi, ms. velazquez and mr. serrano. i know how difficult this vote as, how difficult it is to vote on a compromise that does not fully empower and fully acknowledge the self-governance of the puerto rican people. i know that. but your endorsement of this
bill is very meaningful in that it ties us to a heritage of representation by the puerto rican people in this body and to the needs and insisting and demanding that needs of the people in puerto rico be recognized fully by this congress. we recognize them today, as mr. serrano said, but there's much, much more to do. and this vote, by the way, as i lose, is not about heritage. importantly, it's not about selling out one's heritage. it's about future generations and the opportunities they will have on the island. it's about stability for children, families and the derly with a fiscally stable economy and an accountable fiscal system on the island. while i can understand -- while i can understand the political expediency of voting no, i
think the demands and the urgency to deal with this question compels me and i hope all my colleagues in this body to vote yes. and with that i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. does the gentleman yield back? the gentleman from utah is recognized. mr. bishop: i'm pleased to member of our committee, the gentleman from louisiana, mr. graves, a minute and a half. the chair: the gentleman from louisiana is recognized for a minute and a half. mr. graves: thank you, mr. chairman. first, i want to thank chairman bishop, ranking member grijalva, congressman labrador, duffy, pierluisi who worked on this piece of legislation. puerto rico, an island with a population under four million people, has a debt of $400 billion. that's a population less than the state of louisiana but a debt of nearly $100 billion. we have three options. we can do nothing and continue to allow this island territory
to continue spiraling downward in a financial and humanitarian crisis. we can provide financial oversight. we can relieve regulation and help to reignite the economy and allow for a negotiation between the creditors and the debtor. or we can pay off their debt and add to the already $19 trillion irresponsible debt of the american government today. those are the options that are out there. i tell you, i also struggled with what the right conservative solution was in this case. ultimately, there's just one right answer. doing nothing will simply worsen the financial conditions, will probably put more burden on us to actually bail out the nation on the congress and the white house to do that. i oppose a bailout and i oppose putting taxpayer dollars on the hook to pay off nearly a dozen years of irresponsible spending of the puerto rican government. so establishing a financial oversight board, similar what was done to washington, d.c., in providing conditions to negotiate a solution is the right answer. it's a conservative solution.
during committee consideration of the bill, i included an amendment to ensure that federal taxpayers are not put on the hook for this liability. section 210 says no federal funds shall be authorized by this act for the payment of any liability to the territory or territory instrumentality. it makes it clear. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for 30 seconds. mr. graves: it makes it clear, the supreme court, mentioned by the committee chairman, puerto rico is different than a state. and the supreme court affirmed that today. it's not a state. it's a territory of the u.s., and we have a constitutional obligation to prevent a worsening disaster. this bill does not set a precedent for states and municipalities. it respects the priority of debt by general obligation bondholders and others. it prevents higher cost of borrowing by states and municipalities by controlling this situation. and most importantly, mr. chairman, it doesn't bail out puerto rico. it creates a path for financial stability. i urge support of h.r. 5278. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman's time
has expired. the gentleman from utah is recognized. mr. bishop: i recognize mr. garrett from new jersey now for a minute. the chair: the gentleman from new jersey is recognized for one minute. mr. garrett: i thank the speaker. i come before the house today to support an important piece of legislation that will allow the people of puerto rico a path toward economic prosperity, beholden to out-of-control tax and spend policies, the puerto rican people are facing the harsh reality of unaccountable government and that's why i strongly support this bill. we have a moral and constitutional responsibility to address this fiscal crisis which will only get worse if we don't act and that is why i support this bill and what we must learn from this experience. congress and people of both parties watched them go to a debt of $19 trillion and that's because the u.s. government has something that puerto rico doesn't have. the ability to print money and borrow endlessly. and so that's why i support this fiscal reform in this bill
which does not spend a single dollar in u.s. taxpayer money to relieve puerto rico of its debt. see, i have a long opposed taxpayer bailouts and fortunately this bill prevents the taxpayers from bailing out the government that spent recklessly and provides a conservative solution to force puerto rico to spend now responsibly. the bill also avoids setting a horrible precedent that could walk away from the obligation. mr. bishop: 30 seconds. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for 30 seconds. mr. garrett: i thank the gentleman. but most importantly the bill creates a seven-member oversight board to oversee their debt restructuring and to conduct financial audits. what will they do? they require commonsense actions like sustainable government programs, establish fiscal plans to achieve needed reform and so on. this bipartisan bill is the first step to return puerto rico to solvency and stability and while americans balance their own checkbooks and live within their own means, bureaucrats should behave no differently.
i support the underlying legislation. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from utah. mr. bishop: mr. speaker, i recognize the gentlelady from wyoming, the vice chair of the committee, mrs. lummis, for a minute and a half. or more. the chair: the gentlelady is recognized for a minute and a half. mrs. lummis: thank you, mr. speaker. so we such a bunch of ads on tv about this bill and about what it would do to the bondholders and so i did some research and i rise in support of this bill as one of the more conservative members of the republican wing of this house. and the reason i support it is, the research i did showed me that it wasn't this widow that bought these bonds. it was large institutional investors. it was investors who knew what they were buying because they read the disclosure documents. it was investors who buy billions of dollars worth of bonds and they're trying to diversify those portfolios so they have some high-risk, high-return investments and some low-risk, low-return
investments. they have different maturity dates. they come from different jurisdictions. they're trying to have a balanced portfolio, and those portfolios were purchased recognizing that some of these bonds might have a higher risk and a higher return. and that higher return comes at a discounted price so they paid a discount in hopes that they'd get the higher return and that these bonds would hold up. quite frankly, those bondholders knew what they were getting because it was even disclosed in the bond documents that congress might be here today debating this very problem of the island's inability to repay everything. not all general obligation bonds are created equal. the bond purchasers knew what they were getting. this bill is going to allow for the relative to each other agreement among the bondholders about how to treat the bonds. mr. chairman, i yield back with full support of the bill.
the chair: the gentlelady yields back. the gentleman from utah is recognized. mr. bishop: i'm pleased now to introduce or to yield a minute to the gentleman from wisconsin who i think also has title of speaker of the house, mr. ryan. the chair: the speaker is recognized. the speaker: i ask unanimous consent to address the house for one minute. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. the speaker: mr. speaker, it is vital we pass this bill. let me tell you why. puerto rico's in trouble and we need to act now before that trouble threatens taxpayers. let me explain why. puerto rico's government owes $118 billion in bonds and in unfunded pension liabilities. it has already defaulted on much of it. things are only going to get worse. now the island is shutting down. you can see it in the news. closed schools, hospitals are beginning to close. that's today. tomorrow, it could be policemen without cars.
it could be blackouts at hospitals. this is a humanitarian disaster in the making, and what's worse, if we do nothing it could be a manmade humanitarian disaster. i know this goes without saying but it's worth repeating. the puerto rican people are our fellow americans. they pay our taxes. they fight in our wars. we cannot allow this to happen. i should also say that if we do nothing, the constageon will simply spread. about 15% of puerto rico's debt is already held by middle-class americans, and if the government can't meet its obligations, these families will pay the price or even worse, taxpayers could be asked to bail it out. that is simply unacceptable. that's why we are taking action now to prevent a bailout and to help the puerto rican people. what this bill will do is allow puerto rico to restructure its
debts. it sets up an oversight board that will oversee this process. congress and the president will appoint the members of this board. it will audit puerto rico's books. it will make sure the restructuring is fair. it will make sure restructuring honors agreements. it will make sure that the government changes its ways so we don't have to do this again. let me set a few things straight. some people say this will set a bad precedent. some people say it encourages reckless spending by other states. no, absolutely not. . this bill applyings only to territories and not to states. the puerto rican government is not getting off scot-free here, not at all. because it has not served the puerto rican people well. it has spent money recklessly for decades this legislation will make sure that the government balances its budget. it will make sure that they pass reforms to grow the puerto rican economy. nd it gives flexibility to
minimum wage -- youth minimum wage so people will hire younger people. i hear people say this is a bailout. absolutely, undeniably, categorically false this bill won't add a single dollar to the deficit. all you have to do is look at the congressional budget office. not a single taxpayer dollar added to the deficit. this bill prevents a bailout. that's the entire point. let me tell you this. if we do not pass this bill, then there is much more likely going to be a bailout. because there will be no other choice. but if we pass this bill, puerto rico will get a handle on its debt. its economy can begin to grow. the people in puerto rico will see that help is on the way. last reason to say because they're finally getting their act together. taxpayers will be safe.
i'm telling you right now. all members, the best chance to get this right, is to pass this bill. the best chance for creditors to get what they're owed is this bill. this is our responsibility. the constitution is really clear. the constitution gives congress the duty to oversee legislation for all u.s. territories. and now it is time that we do our constitutional duty. a lot of people have spent so much time on this legislation. here is what we are doing. we see a problem among our fellow citizens. it is in a territory where we have a constitutional responsibility. we have to address this problem. we have to address this problem in a smart way so that we prevent the tax payer from getting involved. we have to address this problem in a smart way so we prevent any contagion from occurring in the bond markets. and we have to address this problem in a smart way so that puerto rico can get back on its
feet again. so that the future for the people in puerto rico is a brighter future. there are so many people who poured their hearts into this. i want to thank rob bishop, the chairman of the committee. i want to thank sean duffy from wisconsin. i want to thank raul labrador from idaho. i want to thank jim sensenbrenner from wisconsin. i want to thank ped pd row peer louie cease. -- pierluisi. i want to thank the member on the other side of the aisle for working on this this bill has my full support and i urge all my colleagues in the house, all the colleagues in the house to give it their full support as well. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from utah. mr. bishop: thank you, mr. chairman. six months ago, our committee began the effort to try and solve this problem. we have we had four hearings, countless stake holders
meetings, got input from expert testimony, interested parties from all over the place were able to get their input in various drafts of the bill. it was an exhaustive effort. what happened is at the end of the time, we had a good bill. that's the way this process is supposed to work. this bill is rooted in the constitution. doesn't cost the taxpayers. provides puerto rico with the tools to impose discipline over its finances. and then toward an element of prosperity. the phrase i'm told [speaking spanish] means promise. this bill is a promise to puerto rico for a better life. it's the way we go forward. with that, i urge everyone's adoption of a great piece of legislation. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. all time for general debate having expired, pursuant to the rule, the bill is to be considered for amendment under the five-minute rule. in lieu of the amendment in the
nature of a substitute, it shall be in order to consider as an original rule. an amendment in the nature of a substitute shall be considered as read. no amendment to that amendment in the nature of a subs institute shall be in order except those printed in house report 114-610. each such amendment may be offered only in the order printed in the report by a member designated in the report, shall be considered as read and shall be debated for the time specified with the time equally divided and control by the proponent and an opponent of the amendment. it is now in order to consider amendment number 1 printed in house report 114-6 10. for what purpose does the gentleman from utah seek recognition? mr. bishop: i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 1 printed in house report 114-610. offered by mr. bishop of utah. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 770. -- 770, the gentleman from utah,
mr. bishop, and a member opposed, each will control phi minutes. mr. bishop: this is the proverbial manager's amendment. it has four significant elements i think people ought to be aware of. we have an opt-in provision in this piece of legislation for the other territories. however if a court find regular moves the opt-in provision an finds it to be unconstitutional, it then does have a reverse severability clause that would reinstate the opt-in so there wouldn't be a constitutional issue. we do have a funding mechanism to make sure the oversight board is up and running properly as we begin. it also has the ability for the oversight board to give them the authority to review and rescind any laws passed by the territory between may 4 and the date of its full appointment as membership if those actions alter the priorities of repayment and move things around in an un-- in a controversial way. finally and probably most
importantly, the amendment also includes a moving up though timetable for appointment to the board. it simply says the president will have the appointment of this board up and running by september 15 this year and no later than that. now this i think has some other technical amendment this is a truly are tech technical but those are four substantive amendment this is a help make this what we intend it to be and get us up and run very quickly. with that, i reserve. the chair: the gentleman reserves. is any member claiming time in opposition. the question is on the amendment offered -- the gentleman from utah is recognized. mr. bishop: do i get five more minutes if i claim time in opposition? the chair: no. mr. bishop: all right, i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from utah. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed. to it is now in order to consider amendment number
printed in house report 114-610. for what purpose does the gentleman seek recognition? mr. graves: i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 2 printed in house report 114-610, offered by mr. graves of missouri. chip the gentleman from missouri, mr. graves and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from missouri. mr. graves: i rise today in support of my amendment which ensures federally funded public transportation systems are considered as essential service as puerto rico works to address its debt crisis. mr. speaker, public transportation services in puerto rico are provided by a fully automated rapid line system that's known as urbana. it serves 8.5 million customers per year, providing access to three university the main medical center in puerto rico and major financial centers in its capital. construction was funded by the united states government through a federal transit administration grant. a total of $.2 billion price
tag. over $00 million of that came from federal grants and another $300 million came from loans. these are taxpayer investment this is a we cannot let go to waste. this amendment is simply a fiscally responsible way to make sure that doesn't happen. failure to maintain puerto rico's mass transit system would ensure -- would cause urbana to fall into disrepair and we've seen how disruptive those problems can be in the nation's capitol. i rae cently held a hearing on the reliability of metro here in d.c. repair has added to traffic problems. we want to make sure that doesn't happen. we don't want to see those same problems, especially given the economic situation they're facing. over the last several dwhreerks government of puerto rico has strug told pay the urbana operation. at times the debt has exceeded
$20 million. with the aide of the f.t.a. preventive maintenance grants, re-knews from passenger fees and funds pr the transit authority, urbana has been table continue serving the residents of puerto rico. it's critical it is considered an essential service so we can protect the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars already in the system. mr. speaker this doesn't change or doesn't prioritize anything, doesn't put anything at the top of the list. it just simply says that it is going to be a part of this process so we do not lose this investment. with that, i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from missouri reserves. any member claiming time in pposition? the gentleman from missouri is ecognized. mr. capuano: i want to step up and add my name to this and say
it's a good amendment and should pass. the chair: the gentleman from missouri. mr. graves: i yield to the chairman. the chair: the gentleman from utah is recognized. mr. bishop: i also want to support this amendment. everything is fine with me too. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from missouri. mr. graves: i yield back. the chair: any other member wishing to claim time? seeing none, the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from missouri. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. it is now in order to consider amendment number three printed in house report 114-610. for what purpose does the gentleman from florida seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number printed in house report 114-610, offered by mr. jolly of florida. the chair: pursuant to the resolution, the gentleman from florida, mr. jolly, and a member opposed each will control five minutes. mr. jolly: section 409 of this
legislation creates a congressional task force on economic growth in puerto rico. the intent of the task force is to study barriers to economic growth, report back to congress on changes in federal law that would spur long-term, sustainable economic growth. job creation. and also attract investment in puerto rico. however in my opinion, the section could be improved by also studying the impact and recommended changes on child poverty on the island of puerto rico. nearly 60% of children under 18 live below the poverty level in puerto rico. and roughly 80% live in high poverty areas. that is in comparison to only 11% that live in high poverty areas here in the continental united states. this very simple amendment would add to the requirements of the condition gregsal task force that they report back on recommended changes to address and reduce child poverty in the territory. this amendment has been endorsed by an organization of roughly
600 national and local religious body, including the u.s. conference of catholic bishops, the united methodist church, catholic charity the union for reformed judaism and additionally on tuesday of this week, san juan bishop nueves specifically called on congress to address child poverty in this bill. much of the debate has been around balancing the interests n needs of bondholders and pensioners. i would also ask this the body consider the impact on the least among us. we are called to serve each other. this is an opportunity for this body to reflect not just the vision of our founders but the calling of our creator in doing so. these children are american citizens. their plight deserves our attention and i urge my colleagues to support this amendment. with that, i reflemb -- reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves. any member seeking time in
opposition? >> i ask unanimous consent to claim time in opposition to this amendment though i'm not opposed. the chair: any objection snl the gentleman from arizona is recognized for five minutes. mr. grijalva: thank you, let me yield two minutes to the gentleman from puerto rico for two minutes. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. pierluisi: thank you, congressman grijalva. i rise to support this thoughtful amendment and thank its authors, congressman jolly and congressman curbelo, both from florida. florida is home to over a million individuals of puerto rican birth or descent and will soon pass new york as the state with the largest puerto rican population. many are recent arrivals having relocated from puerto rico to the sunshine state in search of equality and economic opportunity they lack on the island. i also want to thank the organization jubilee u.s.a. which has been a constructive
layer in the debate over this. this directs the task force to report -- recommend changes to federal policy to reduce child poverty in puerto rico. i do not want to prejudge the work of the task force so i will simply say this. poverty in puerto rico, including child poverty is far higher than any state in the nation and has been far higher for as long as statistics have been available. this demonstrates that the problem is structural in nature. it is rooted in the unequal treatment puerto rico receives under key federal anti-poverty problems -- programs, which is only permissible because pleek is a territory rather than a state. to reduce poverty, we must end unequal treatment and to end unequal treatment, puerto rico must discard its territory status in favor of statehood or nationhood. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from arizona --
mr. grijalva: i reserve. mr. jolly: i reserve. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from arizona. mr. grijalva: let me yield one minute to the gentleman from new york, mr. serrano. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. serrano: i had to say something because he was my parish priest in the bronx. i know of his work, and if he wants this discussed, then it's something i rise to and support. he always cared about child poverty in the bronx when he was my parish priest and now as i tell him he's a big shot in puerto rico, he's still doing the right thing by god's work. thank you. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from arizona reserves? mr. grijalva: i reserve. the chair: the gentleman from
florida is recognized. mr. jolly: i reserve pending any comments from my colleague from arizona. mr. grijalva: let me thank and commend the gentleman from florida for this very good amendment. the nk it dovetails with rest of the legislation as you talk about the industries that needs addressed, poverty that the puerto rican are facing. you are to be commended and we support the amendment. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from florida. mr. jolly: thank you, mr. speaker. i'd simply close by urging my colleagues to support this very important amendment, do the right thing for the very least among us, those children on the island who are facing significant challenges of poverty so that we as a body might respond better to the right policies that address their very real needs and with that i yield back and urge passage of this amendment. thank you, mr. speaker. the chair: time for debate is
now over. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from florida. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. it's now in order to consider amendment number 4 printed in house report 114-610. for what purpose does the gentleman from alabama seek recognition? mr. byrne: mr. chairman, i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 4 printed in part report number 14-610 offered by mr. -- printed in house report 114-410 offered by mr. byrne from alabama. the chair: the gentleman from alabama and a member opposed will each control five minutes. mr. byrne: thank you. i want to thank mr. graves of louisiana and mr. polis for their amendment at the committee level to require a report from the government accountability office outlining how puerto rico reached this point of fiscal insolvency. my amendment is very straightforward. it would simply set a deadline
for g.a.o. to submit this report within 18 months of enactment of this bill. mr. graves and mr. polis are co-sponsors of my amendment, and they agreed that setting the deadline is important. we must figure out how puerto rico got to this point in order to avoid another territory finding itself in a similar position at some point down the road. i believe having this report and receiving it in a timely manner will hopefully go a long way toward preventing a similar situation in the future. this amendment is about accountability. i urge its adoption and i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from alabama reserves. any member seeking time in opposition? any member seeking time in opposition? the gentleman from alabama is recognized. mr. byrne: with that i urge adoption and yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. all debate has ended. the question son the amendment offered by the gentleman from alabama. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. it's now in order to consider amendment number 5 printed in
house report 114-610. for what purpose does the gentleman from alabama seek recognition? mr. byrne: mr. chairman, i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 5 printed in house report 114-610 offered by mr. byrne of alabama. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 770, the gentleman from alabama, mr. byrne, and a member opposed, each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from alabama. mr. byrne: thank you, mr. chairman. as we've heard over and over again today, this congress has plenty authority over our territories. over the course of the last century, this body has rightly delegated this power to provide for home rule for our territories. however, it is abundantly clear that this delegation of power has resulted in no oversight by the federal government over the debts our territories are running up. so in this particular case, out of the blue we've been told by the united states treasury that it's our constitutional responsibility to do something to save a territory from years of its own fiscal
irresponsibility. for years, the entire federal government was essentially asleep at the wheel as one of our territories ran up huge unsustainable debts until the day rose when the territory could no longer pay. mr. chairman, i have absolutely no interest in interfering with the home rule of our territories. however, delegated authority can be abused. if we have a constitutional responsibility to intervene, to prevent territorial insolvency, we should at least exercise minimal oversight into the large debt some of our territories are running up. my amendment is simple. it requires a biennial report to congress the drivers of each territory's debt, the effect on each territory's debt and the ability of each territory to repay its debt. this will help us provide that minimal oversight. unfortunately, mr. chairman, the very agency coming to congress and asking us to help
puerto rico, the united states treasury has refused to provide this report to congress claiming it lacks resources. let's be clear. the department of treasury was appropriated $11.9 billion for this fiscal year, and they claim a lack of resources to put together a simple report on five tiny territories. that is astonishing. it's also irresponsible. in response to the department of treasury, i offered a compromise. i would take one treasury report on territorial debt if the treasury would simply agree to monitor and advise us what's going on with these territorial governments and how to prevent insolvency. they said it would represent an unprecedented expansion into the finances and inolvensy of a subsovereign. apparently this government doesn't like the territory
clause of the constitution unless it's being used at the very last minute to save puerto rico. i don't blame puerto rico for this. i blame the united states treasury for this. if the united states treasury is unwilling to do its job, i have changed the text of my amendment to require the g.a.o. to put together this biennial report, and i look forward to seeing its results. last night, mr. chairman, in the rules committee meeting we heard testimony from representatives of two other territories who told us they are concerned that their territories are sliding in the same direction of puerto rico while the treasury department sleeps. so since the treasury department won't take its responsibility and do its job, we're going to do our job through the g.a.o. i hope my colleagues will join me in fixing this problem before another crisis is upon us. perhaps then we can even get the treasury and the rest of the federal government to wake up. if they don't i'll have a lot less sympathy the next time
they come asking for our help, and i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from alabama reserves. any member claiming time in opposition? the gentleman from arizona. mr. grijalva: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise to claim time in opposition to this amendment. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. grijalva: thank you. this amendment requires the g.a.o. to submit reports every two years to the congress about the public debt and the ability to pay that debt of all u.s. territories. while the debt crisis in puerto rico is indeed serious and real, there is no indication that any other territory faces a similar crisis. the base bill already includes reporting requirements. requiring more reporting covering the territories is unwarranted as well as being a waste of g.a.o.'s limited time to provide more important reports to congress. a number of the states and localities of the mainland face much more precarious budget situations than the other territories. we don't need any more focus on u.s. territories when there is
no reason to believe such onerous reporting is required or justified. and i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from arizona reserves. the gentleman from alabama. mr. byrne: i yield to the gentleman from utah. the chair: the gentleman from utah is recognized for -- mr. byrne: two minutes. the chair: two minutes. mr. bishop: mr. chairman there is an old line from 1776 where steven hopkins said i've never heard, seen, smelled an issue that is worth talking about. hell yes i'm for debating. the information could be vital and it could be helpful and for that i endorse and support this amendment. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. mr. byrne: i reserve. the chair: the gentleman from alabama reserves. the gentleman from arizona. mr. grijalva: continue to reserve. the chair: the gentleman from alabama. mr. byrne: well, i listened to the gentleman's comments and i got to tell you if there's enough in this bill for the reporting, why did the treasury not say that to us? they didn't say that to us because they know there needs
to be a report done. they just don't want to take the responsibility for doing it, so i think this amendment is definitely necessary to make sure we're doing our job to provide our constitutional responsibility, and i reserve. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from arizona. mr. grijalva: continue to reserve. the chair: the gentleman from alabama. mr. byrne: i'm ready to close if the gentleman from arizona is. the chair: the gentleman from alabama. mr. byrne: mr. chairman, i didn't know anything about this and the vast majority of the members didn't know anything about this problem before it was thrust upon us in the last several weeks. the irresponsibility the treasury department not to give this information to us months ago when they knew it was happening or when they should have known it was happening underscores the need for this. now, i'm putting it on g.a.o. in this particular amendment but in the years to come we expect treasury to do its job because they failed to do it in this circumstance. i ask this house to adopt my amendment and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman from alabama yields back. the gentleman from arizona. mr. grijalva: thank you. i'd point out a recent report
from the u.s. education fund rated all 50 states on whether they made transparent budget and spending information available to the public. my own state of arizona received a grade of a b. so we have some work to do there. the state of alabama, however, received a grade of a d. placing it fourth from the bottom of all states. it seems clear from that if our goal is budget and spending transparency, perhaps our focus should be on our states and mainland and not the territories because that seems to be where there's' verifiable problem. this amendment -- there's a verifiable problem. this amendment is unwarranted and does not need to be included in the legislation, and i yield back the remainder of my time. the chair: the gentleman from arizona yields back. the time for general debate has expired. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from alabama. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it.
the amendment is agreed to. it is now in order to consider amendment number 6 printed in house report 114-610. for what purpose does the gentleman from wisconsin seek recognition? mr. duffy: i have an amendment at the desk, mr. speaker. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. amendment number 6 printed in house report 114-610 offered by mr. duffy of wisconsin. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 770, the gentleman from wisconsin, mr. duffy, and a member opposed, each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from wisconsin. mr. duffy: thank you, mr. speaker. the puerto rico unemployment rate is double the national average. nearly one in every two residents live below the poverty line. economic growth is in the negative. we heard about that all day today. now, promesa will stop the bleeding, but there is an easy solution to jump-start the economy. we have a down payment and commission and i think this is a real step in trying to kick-start economic growth. my amendment with my colleague, mr. pierluisi from puerto rico, will remove an impediment to
the small business administration hubzone program that limits the number of businesses on the island that are eligible for the program. this idea was brought to me by my friend, the speaker of the puerto rico legislative assembly and it's a good one. what does it do? the hubzone program is a small business federal contracting assistance program whose primary objective is job creation and increasing capital investment in distressed communities. now, there's a 20% cap, so that 20% cap for this program might not affect minneapolis or chicago or milwaukee because you don't have 20% of the communities that are distressed. however, in puerto rico, you have far more than 20% of the communities that are distressed. you have 80% of them that are distressed. so by removing this cap, you have a larger part of the community that qualifies to access this program. this is i think a very good solution and down payment on economic growth and investment
in puerto rico. not only that, but there have been some noted problems with the program. g.a.o. has made some recommendations. we have solidified those recommendations in this bill, not just for puerto rico, but for the nation as a whole to make sure there's better checks and balances in the hubzone program. with that i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. any member claim time in opposition? the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. >> i rise reluctantly to the amendment offered by my friend from wisconsin, mr. duffy. mr. chabot: the house small business committee who i happen to chair has authority over the hubzone program. our committee has not had the opportunity to have oversight hearings on the program during the session, and i don't believe that it would be prudent to adopt this amendment until the committee has had the opportunity to perform its due diligence. in discussions with interested parties during the development
of this legislation, i suggested language that would require the g.a.o. to issue a report on small business administration programs in uerto rico contracting related to hubzone concerns. that is is in the underlying text. that committee, coupled with oversight committee work, i believe will ensure that what congress ultimately does will in fact help puerto rico's small business. i thank the chair and reserve the balance of my time. . the chair: the gentleman from wisconsin. mr. duffy: i recognize the gentleman from puerto rico, mr. pierluisi, for 2 1/2 minutes. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for 2 1/2 minutes. mr. pierluisi: i want to begin by thanking congressman duffy for his outstanding work on this bill and this amendment. i want to thank congressman don young, a steadfast champion for
fair treatment of puerto rico who is also a co-sponsor of the amendment. the primary purpose of the amendment is to promote small business activity and promote job growth in the community. if the poverty rate or median income in a census track meets a certain threshold, it is designated a qualified cens track. small businesses in a qualified census track can compete for federal funds. however there's a statutory cap which prevents the combined population of the qualified census track within a metropolitan statistical area from exceeding 20% of the total population of that area. though it applies nationwide it has a uniquely negative impact in puerto rico. small firms located in over 60 municipalities cannot take advantage of the hub zone program solely because of the
cap. no other u.s. state or territory comes anywhere close to being as adversely affected by the cap as puerto rico. to promote economic development in puerto rico, which is absolutely essential, if the territory is going to prosper, our amendment would remove the cap on puerto rico for 10 years or until the independent eversight bordes tab lished by the legislation terminates, chr occurs first. based on the best available statistic, this amendment ensures that small firms located in over 80% of the census tracks in puerto rico may be eligible to compete for federal contract which should create additional employment opportunities on the island. the amendment will only extend the hub zone program to those census tracks in puerto rico that would have qualified for the program in the absence of the cap so it does not constitute an unwarranted expansion of the hub zone program. i urge my colleagues to vote yes
on this amendment. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from ohio. the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from wisconsin. mr. duffy: reserve as well. the chair: the gentleman from ohio has the right to close. mr. duffy: i appreciate the comments by chairman chabot. and would just note, i know his committee hasn't had oversight hear option this issue, the g.a.o. has done extensive studies and the small business administration has not implemented those recommendations. i think the most salient recommendations made by the g.a.o. have been included in this bill and go a long way to improving the program. if we're going to fix puerto rico, debt restructuring is imperative. this oversight board is key. but we need economic growth. i think this is the right down payment to help kick start economic growth on the island. the people in puerto rico know we understand that and we're taking one small step today to
show that we're going to help them get from that 20% cap to allow 80% of the island to access this hub zone program because we care about growth, we care about opportunity, and we care about jobs on the island. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from ohio. mr. chabot: i yield back. the chair: the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from wisconsin. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. he amendment is agreed to. it is now in order to consider amendment number 7 printed in house report 114-610. for what purpose does the gentleman from new york seek recognition? mr. serrano: i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate ea amendment. the clerk: amendment -- the chair: clerk will suspend. without objection. the gentleman from new york, mr. serrano and a member opposed each will control five minutes.
the chair recognizes the gentleman from new york. mr. serrano: this amendment, offered by ms. velazquez and myself, would help clarify this would not impact the work being done by the puerto rico commission for the comprehensive audit of the public credit. this entity, set up by puerto rico's government, is in the process of examining the massive debt that has been incurred, accrued by the territory. in a preliminary report, the commission recently found that a small portion of the debt may have been illegally issued by the government of puerto rico. and they node to go to further examine the issue. and its implications. this amendment simply preserves the ability of this commission to continue their work and for either the government or the oversight board to review and consider any findings that the commission might have. the work being done by the commission could significantly assist both the oversight board
and the puerto rican government as the island tries to get back on its feet. i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves. any member wishing to claim time in opposition? for what purpose does the gentleman from utah seek recognition? mr. bishop: let me claim time in objection though i'm not opposed to this amendment. the chair: the gentleman is recognize. mr. bishop: i want to make it clear this does not override the authority of the oversight board, because of that, i support the amendment and urge its adoption. with that, i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. gentleman from new york. i yield to noah:
the gentlelady from new york for three minutes. ms. velazquez: i rise in support of the serrano-velazquez amendment. throughout the course of this entire is a fwa, it has become clear that puerto rico's debt is not fully understood. the islands have issued 18 different classes of debt, from g.d.v. to utility bonds. various local and state laws are involved and the as a result a web of confusion. to address this, the puerto rico commission for the comprehensive audit of the public credit was created to examine all the island's debt, something that is very much need the audit will not only inform the people of puerto rico but also in many ways will assist the oversight board in carrying out its mission. in assessing all the island's $70 billion in debt is long overdue. recently the commission released a preliminary report finding that a small yet significant amount of the debt may have violated the island's constitution. such a finding is meaningful and
could have ramifications for this legislation implementation. our amendment ensures that the underlying bill will not prevent the commission from finishing its important work while also allowing the local government and the oversight board to consider their findings if they so choose. in summary this amendment would allow for much-needed sunlight to be schoen on the island's financial situation. i urge members to support this amendment and i yield back. the chair: the gentlelady yields back they have gentleman from new york. mr. serrano: just simply to ask everyone to vote for the amendment. and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. time for debate having concluded, the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from new york. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed. o -- is agreed to. it is now in order to consider amendment number 8 printed in
house report 114-610. for what purpose does the gentlewoman from california seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 8, printed in house report 114-610, offered by mrs. torres of california. the chair: the gentlewoman from kale, mrs. torres, and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentlelady from california. mrs. torres: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the chair: the gentlelady is recognized. mrs. torres: the bill as it is currently written allows the minimum wage for workers 5 years and younger to be lowered to an abysmal $4.25 for four queers or as long as the oversight board is in place. it also fails to specify whether this reduction is limited to one four-year period or if the request can be made over and over again. essentially, keeping the lower
wage indefinitely. my amendment would strip this provision from the bill. in today's dollars, american workers haven't had a minimum wage this low since the 1940's. the young men and women of puerto rico are american citizens. and they don't deserve to be treated like second class workers. these aren't high school students with summer jobs. they are young people setting off on their careers. many of them struggling to pay off student loan debts and become self-sufficient. lowering the wage only adds insult to injury and sends the wrong statement about whether we value puerto ricans as equal americans. the i-- the island is already experiencing a mass exodus of young people. lowering wages will only make more young people want to leave. having a detrimental impact on
puerto rico's current and future work force. its tax base, and its ability to pay off its debt. ultimately, digging them into a deeper hole. if we want to help puerto rico overcome this current crisis, we need to make sure the island is a place where young people can see a future for themselves. start a family and work to grow a business. not a place that devalues their work and their contributions. the minimum wage provision in this bill is bad for these young workers and is bad for puerto rico. i urge my colleagues to support my amendment and i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlelady reserves. any member wishing to claim time in opposition. for what purpose does the gentleman from tennessee seek recognition? mr. roe: i would like to speak in opposition. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. row: i rise in opposition to
the amendment respectfully by my colleague from california because this is exactly the kind of thinking that led puerto rico into the fiscal situation in which they now find themselves. as we all know, one thing that would help address puerto rico's fiscal crisis is a stronger, more vibrant local economy. mr. roe: that's why this legislation includes a number of provisions aimed at helping local businesses expend and hire new workers this amendment would strike an entire provision if the bill a provision that is pro-growth and aimed at revitalizing local businesses and the puerto rican economy as a whole. section 403 is a provision that will make it easier for young workers to find jobs and start their careers. the legislation gives the governor of puerto rico the authority subject to the approval of the oversight board, to adjust the minimum wage for new workers under the age of 25. current law already allows employers to offer what is known as a youth opportunity wage for
up to 90 tais. this legislation simply extends the time period in puerto rico to four years, an idea that was first recommended in 2012 by the federal reserve bank of new york, which noted then that younger workers were, quote, in danger of becoming disconnected from the labor market. end quote. this recommended change will support economic growth and provide more job opportunities for the local work force, particularly younger workers, and workers with fewer skills. these are common sense policy this is a will help address puerto rico's fiscal crisis by supporting a stronger, more prosperous local economy. for these reasons, i urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment and support the underlying legislation. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the gentlelady from california. mrs. torres: yes, mr. speaker, i would like to yield one minute to the gentleman from florida, mr. grayson. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. grayson: mr. speaker, we're
talking about minimum wage of $4 tnt 25 an hour. -- of $4.25 an hour. less than $700 a month. tell me how anyone can survive anywhere on on the island of puerto rico on $700 a month. the cost of living in san juan is no lower than that. i don't know where you can find a one-bedroom apartment for $700 a month that would be worth living in. i don't know how to pay for lunch and dinner and breakfast for $700 a month. i don't know how you can find health coverage for $700. i don't know how you can find transportation to get to that job for $700 a month. i don't get it. any one of these things would be enough to break the budget and put you in bankruptcy for $700 a month and that's before you attackses. we're taking a spanish speaking population, 3.5 million of them,
and condemning them to low wages to the point where 45-year-old men will lose their jobs to 20-year-old sons because the 20-year-old sons are forced to work for only $4.25. . i ask unanimous consent for another 30 seconds. the chair: the gentlelady controls the time. mrs. torres: i yield 30 seconds. the chair: the gentleman is recognized 30. mr. grayson: this is what we're teaching these young men and women trying to help. hop on an airplane from san juan to my district in orlando for $168 and you can get a 70% increase in your wages because that's what the difference is already under current law between what you're talking about a $4.25 hourly wage and $7.25 that you can earn legally -- it's more than that under state law in orlando. that's not teaching people how to work. it's teaching people to disrespect work. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back.
the gentlelady from california. mrs. torres: thank you, mr. speaker. how much time is left? the chair: the gentlelady has a minute and a half. mrs. torres: someone in puerto rico needs to make $9.25 an hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment. if the wage is lowered to $4.25, not even two earners could afford to live there. mr. speaker, there is no question that puerto rico will need to make sacrifices, but it can't do so on the backs of its young work force, american citizens. this provision does not fix puerto rico's problems, and in the long run it makes them worse. i urge my colleagues to support my amendment so that puerto rico's recovery doesn't come at the expense of young hardworking americans. i yield back. the chair: the gentlelady yields back. all time for debate having expired, the question is on the amendment offered by the gentlelady from california.
those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the noes have it. mrs. torres: i request a recorded vote. a recorded vote. a recorded vote is requested. those in support of the request for a recorded vote will rise and be counted. a sufficient number having arisen, a recorded vote is ordered. members will record their votes by electronic device. this is a 15-minute vote. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.]