Armed with the US House majority, Democrats seek to act on Puerto Rico issues

by | Dec 18, 2018 | Congress | Comments

The Democratic Party, picking up the majority in the United States House of Representatives, will begin an uphill fight to implement their policies and objectives. One of the strategic objectives for the Democratic Party will be to put forth policies that will secure votes in the 2020 presidential election. In key states such as Florida, this will mean securing a larger portion of the Puerto Rican vote as well as attempting to get a larger voting base to show up at the polls for the election. The 2018 election cycle saw a critical change, albeit not shown in major changes in political leanings among voters, in the targeting of Puerto Rican votes. The GOP in states such as Florida, with its large Puerto Rican population, put forth several millions dollars towards Puerto Rican outreach in an attempt to sway some among the demographic to change their political allegiances. While the majority of the Puerto Rican population still voted for Democrats, the percentage was lower than previous election cycles.

One of the strategies being put forth by democratic members of Congress that will likely be addressed by the new Congress, will be to alter the Financial Oversight and Management Board. The board, created under President Obama in 2016, sought to reduce public spending in Puerto Rico in an effort to shift more money towards paying off various debts accumulated by Puerto Rico. Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D) of Arizona, who will chair of the US House Committee on Natural Resources, has come out and stated that the board actually does further damage to the already struggling economy of Puerto Rico, hence preventing any positive developments towards a more stable and financially secure future. Among those who have acknowledged support for Rep. Grijalva and his desire to alter the board’s mission are some major players in the Democratic Party: Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, in addition to a growing list of over two dozen other house democrats have all supported the proposed changes.

Governor Ricardo Rosselló is looking forward to taking full advantage of House Democrats who are eager to win over future votes among the Puerto Rican population. Rosselló has increasingly pushed for Congress to do more, not just with disaster recovery efforts that are still much needed in the wake of Hurricane Maria, but also with other key issues such as Rosselló’s call for Congress to extend Medicaid funding to Puerto Rico for another 2-years, valuing $3.18 billion. Any hope, however, for significant process on any issues pertaining to Puerto Rico should be squashed as the lame duck Congress is unlikely to act on such changes before years end.