Sanders’ solution to help Puerto Rico
Although Sen. Bernie Sanders is overwhelmingly busy with his campaign for the Democratic nomination, it looks like he still has some time to care about the mess Puerto Rico is in. He came up with his own plan for Puerto Rico’s future, the Puerto Rico Humanitarian Relief Act.
A final version of the bill was officially published in Sen. Sanders’s website. The bill talks about various issues including statehood, economy, infrastructure, and health care. It includes a total of 7 sections.
The first section states that the Federal Reserve will be given permission to use its finances for in emergency situations with Puerto Rico’s debt. It also encourages the continuation of the Puerto Rican Public Debt Committee.
Sanders introduces the construction of a new public corporation, which would be responsible for the financial restructuring of the island. The corporation would be led by a group of 7 members. Four of the members would be chosen by the legislature in Puerto Rico; two of the members would be appointed by the Governor of Puerto Rico; and one would be appointed by the President of the United States. The Exchange Stabilization Fund at the US Treasury Department would be providing the financial needs for this public corporation.
The bill dictates the inclusion of all US territories under the Chapter 9 Bankruptcy title, which would assist Puerto Rico in the restructuring of debts.
It also provides a lot benefits in health care. To begin with, the bill makes guarantees that Puerto Rico will receive equal payments as the other 50 states. With this bill, all seniors and people with disabilities will automatically be enrolled in the Medicare Part B. Next, Puerto Rico will be added to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, a new research university will be built.
Puerto Rico will be given access to $10.8 billion over the next 5 years, to rebuild and fix the island’s infrastructure. Many items are included in the list of things that will be rebuilt, such as roads, bridges, harbors, and wastewater plants.
The bill also makes it so that the federal earned income tax credit will be available for Puerto Ricans, as well. In addition, the child tax credit received by Puerto Ricans will be equal to other Americans.
The last section discusses the statehood question of Puerto Rico. It authorizes Puerto Rican people to hold a vote by January 31, 2018. This vote would include the following three options: admitting Puerto Rico into the United States, allowing Puerto Rico to become an independent country or allowing Puerto Rico to reform the current commonwealth government. A transition according to the outcome of the votes should occur by January 31, 2022.
The date of the official introduction of the bill is currently unknown, but we should expect to see the introduction during this month. No other statement was made on the bill yet.