An analysis of Puerto Rico legislation in Congress

by | Mar 23, 2016 | Congress, Headlines | Comments

While the media keeps on focusing its cameras on the aesthetic nature of the primaries, Puerto Rico’s worsening economic situation is ongoing without getting the attention it warrants. The debt has gone up to $72 billion and the approximate debt per capita is around $20,700.

The current congress,is trying to take steps in bringing a stop to this crisis or at least improve the current situation. There are about 65 bills and 2 resolutions that will have an effect on the situation in Puerto Rico. Approximately 25 of these bills are directly related to Puerto Rico.

These bills are sponsored by various Congressmen, including Pedro Pierluisi, Orrin Hatch, Nydia Velazquez, Robert Menendez, Richard Blumenthal, Stacey Plaskett, Bill Pascrell, Elizabeth Warren, Sean Duffy, Bill Nelson and Nancy Pelosi.

A majority of these bills is introduced by Democrats, especially Pedro Pierluisi, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico. Pierluisi, has been the most active name when looking at the situation of these bills. He has introduced 12 bills in the past year; however, none of these bills have been reported by their committees yet.

Pierluisi has also been skeptical about the consequences of other bills concerning Puerto Rico. In late February, the Commissioner gave a speech regarding H.R. 4637, the Puerto Rico Minimum Wage Improvement Act, a bill introduced by Congressman Mark Sanford of South Carolina. He suggested that the name Encourage More Migration from Puerto Rico to the States Act would be fitting the intention of the bill more precisely.

Another common name in legislation related to Puerto Rico is Robert Menendez, senior Senator of New Jersey. Menendez, another Democrat, has introduced 4 bills. Menendez got the attention of the media when he publicly introduced two of his bills on March 15th.  This package includes Puerto Rico Stability Act (S. 2676) and the Puerto Rico Recovery Act (S. 2675). He has also said the following about his mission:

I rise to introduce a comprehensive stability and recovery package that restores fairness, ensures accountability, and gives Puerto Rico the tools it needs to dig itself out of this hole.  And I rise to implore this Congress to act before it’s too late.

Currently, the Congress is being quiet about the bills concerning Puerto Rico. All of the 25 bills that will have a direct impact on Puerto Rico have been referred to their relevant committees and none of them have been reported yet. It is known that a few of Pierluisi’s bills have been waiting for more than a year

To get a better look at the bills and their possible outcomes, we compiled each piece of legislation and their likelihood at being enacted from GovTrack:

As it can be seen, all of these bills are still waiting in the first step of becoming a law and their chance of actually becoming a law, according to GovTrack, is very slim. There are many factors which GovTrack takes into account when calculating their chance of being enacted.

The most outstanding reason, surely, is the fact that a vast majority of these bills are written by members of the Democratic Party, which has been the minority party since the midterm elections of 2014. Unfortunately, until enough attention is pointed towards the severe crisis in Puerto Rico, both by the media and the Senate, the problem will continue to exist.