Puerto Rico Advocates Rally to Urge Lawmakers to Take Action

  • Democrats seek to include Puerto Rico aid in spending bill
  • 500 people will meet their Congressmen urging action

A day after avoiding default, about a hundred advocates for action in Puerto Rico rallied at the U.S. House of Representatives, expressing frustration over a flurry of hearings that haven’t produced any outcome and asking for aid for the commonwealth to be included in the spending bill lawmakers must pass to keep the U.S. government funded.

“We don’t need any more hearings, we don’t need any more studies, we don’t need any more reports, we need action,” Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico’s non-voting member in the House of Representatives , said at National Day of Action For Puerto Rico event Wednesday. “Congress cannot ignore the fact that Puerto Rico is about to default on hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars in bond payments.”

While Puerto Rico made the entire $354 million payment due Dec. 1, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla told lawmakers in Washington Tuesday that the island is running out of cash and will pay policemen, teachers and firefighters before he pays creditors. The island faces a Jan. 1 deadline to pay an additional $357 million of general-obligation interest.

Jose Serrano, a Democrat from New York who attended the event in Washington, is seeking to attach language giving Puerto Rico agencies access to Chapter 9 bankruptcy to the so-called omnibus, the legislation Congress needs to approve to fund the U.S. government beyond Dec. 11.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who will take over as the Democratic leader in the chamber in 2017, also spoke at the Washington rally in favor of the Chapter 9 bill and more heath-care funding for the commonwealth. Raul Grijalva, a Democratic representative from Arizona, urged the Federal Reserve to get involved.

About 500 people will meet with their representatives in Congress today to talk about the Puerto Rican debt crisis, according to Miranda Barbot, a spokeswoman for the Hispanic Federation. So far, the legislative proposals to help the island didn’t get any support from Republican leadership, which controls both chambers.

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