NACOPRW President Writes Letter & Receives Response from Senator Feinstein

Dear Ms. Colon-Muniz: Thank you for your letter regarding the economy of Puerto Rico. I appreciate hearing from you, and welcome the opportunity to respond. As you discussed, Puerto Rico has faced fiscal difficulties for much of the past decade. The Commonwealth has been in an economic recession since 2006 and unemployment is currently over 13 percent. Furthermore, over 45 percent of the Commonwealth's 3.5 million people are living in poverty. In response to this crisis, Puerto Rico has enacted significant budget cuts, tax increases, and additional fiscal discipline measures. However, these actions, coupled with the economic recession, have led the state to close some schools and hospitals, and services provided by other vital social institutions have decreased. Additionally, Puerto Rico has experienced a 10 percent decrease in population as people have chosen to migrate to the U.S mainland, thereby reducing the tax base. While the territory was able to pay off part of its $328-million general obligation debt in January, it simultaneously was unable to pay $174 million in debt payments. Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla recently stated that the government will likely default on future payments unless an agreement to allow the island to restructure its debt is achieved. I share your strong support for federal intervention in respond to Puerto Rico's debt crisis. To this end, I am a cosponsor of Senator Richard Blumenthal's (D-CT) bill, the "Puerto Rico Chapter 9 Uniformity Act of 2015" (S.1774), which would amend the federal bankruptcy code to permit Puerto Rico's public entities and municipalities to restructure their debt. Under current law, the bankruptcy code is available to the 50 states and their subdivisions but is not available to Puerto Rico's cities or public entities. S.1774 has since been referred to the Judiciary Committee, of which I am a member. Additionally, on January 27, 2016, I joined 45 of my colleagues in sending the attached letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (D-KY) urging him to work swiftly to bring to the floor legislation that would give Puerto Rico the ability to restructure its debt. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) has directed House members to put together a solution to the Puerto Rico debt restructuring crisis by the end of March. Please know that I have made note of your suggestions regarding federal aid for Puerto Rico, and I will keep your thoughts in mind should S.1774 be considered in committee or before the full Senate. Once again, thank you for writing to me. I appreciate knowing of your concerns, and hope you will continue to keep me informed of matters of importance to you. Should you have further questions or comments, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C., office at 202-224-3841. Best regards. Sincerely yours, Dianne Feinstein United States Senator Further information about my position on issues of concern to California and the nation are available at my website, feinstein.senate.gov

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