U.S. Rep. Torres, Sen. Gillibrand Reintroduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Dissolve the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico

Jul 28, 2023
Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) this week reintroduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to accelerate the dissolution of the Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) for Puerto Rico and return financial control of the island back to leaders of its duly elected government.

“The Financial Oversight and Management Board – an example of modern-day colonialism – represents a deep stain on the sovereignty and self-determination of Puerto Rico and American democracy,” said U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15). “In the more than six years since the FOMB was established, Puerto Rico has made significant progress in restructuring its debt but will not be able to fully prosper until the undemocratic and unelected board is terminated once and for all. My bicameral, bipartisan legislation establishes a clear end date for the existence of the FOMB, enshrines a process for transitioning all funds, assets, and records to the Puerto Rico government, and finally provides a pathway for returning power and control of the island back to where it belongs – its people.”

“Puerto Rico deserves autonomy over its finances and future, which can only be done by the removal of the Financial Oversight Management Board,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). “The FOMB has put forward harmful policies without consent of the people of Puerto Rico or regard for economic development. The people of the island deserve the ability to choose their own destiny through their duly elected leaders, not an unelected board.”

The “Territorial Relief under Sustainable Transitions for Puerto Rio Act of 2023” – or the “TRUST for Puerto Rico Act of 2023 – terminates the existence of the FOMB no later than 90 days after the certification of two balanced budgets and addresses the following:

  • Reduces the required number of balanced budgets from four to two consecutive fiscal years.
  • Eliminates the requirement of “the applicable territorial government has adequate access to
    short-term and long-term credit markets at reasonable interest rates to meet the borrowing
    needs of the territorial government.”
  • Establishes that the FOMB be terminated no later than 90 days after the certification of two
    balanced budgets and clarifies that any balanced budget before this bill’s enactment should be
    considered.
  • Enables the Legislative Assembly and Governor of Puerto Rico to adopt a resolution after the
    certification of two balanced budgets to set forth the transfer of functions. The FOMB would
    transfer all funds, assets, and records to the Government of Puerto Rico and provide a copy of all records to Congress.

“I fully support Congressman Torres’s bill to give us a clear path to end PROMESA, now that the government of Puerto Rico has exited bankruptcy and has made great strides toward fiscal responsibility and economic prosperity,” said Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi. “This bill offers a fair and targeted process to begin the transition toward a Puerto Rico without an Oversight Board.”

“The problem with the language of the PROMESA Act is that it does not detail precisely and clearly what are the goals to be achieved so that the presence of the FOMB in Puerto Rico culminates. The current language of PROMESA is so ambiguous that it does not guarantee the departure of the Board despite the approval of the balanced budgets, including the payment of debt service, the financial statements being up to date, and the access to capital markets. We support this legislation proposed by Congressman Torres because it addresses the structural flaws of the PROMESA law by clearly establishing achievable and measurable objectives for the departure of the Fiscal Control Board,” said Speaker Rafael “Tatito” Hernández Montañez.

“The PROMESA board’s austerity cuts have gone on for long enough,” said U.S. Rep. Darren Soto (FL-09). “It’s important that the island’s budget is managed in a fiscally responsible way that doesn’t cut social programs and other vital services. I believe that our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico deserve better, and this bill is a step in the right direction towards returning power to the people.”

“Over the past six years, the FOMB has pushed an agenda that ensures payments of illegal debt to rich bondholders at the expense of the lives of millions of Puerto Ricans. Today, life on the archipelago has become so difficult that many have been forced to leave while those who stay struggle to survive. This is proof that the FOMB’s policies are a failure. It’s time to abolish the board and give back the power to govern to the people of Puerto Rico,” said Julio Lopez, Co-Chief of Campaigns at The Center for Popular Democracy.

COSPONSORS
Rep. Gonzalez-Colon (PR-AL), Rep. Velazquez (NY-07), Rep. Soto (FL-09), Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Rep. Grijalva (AZ-07), Rep. Espaillat (NY-13)

ENDORSEMENTS
Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), Construyamos Otro Acuerdo, Hedge Clippers, Make the Road PA, Make the Road CT, Make the Road NY, Make the Road NV, CASA, Action NC, Florida Rising y Taller Salud

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