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WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the Floor of the House of Representatives this afternoon in support of bipartisan compromise legislation to address the debt crisis in Puerto Rico. Below is a transcript of his remarks and a link to the video:
“I thank the gentleman for yielding. At the outset, rarely do we see the political courage and intellectual integrity that we have seen in the gentlelady from New York, Ms. [Nydia] Velázquez. I have worked with her for months now trying to get a solution fair to Puerto Rico and fair to the 3.5 million American citizens who live in Puerto Rico.
“I also want to thank my friend, [Rep.] Jose Serrano, also from New York, also Puerto Rican, also having thought about this extraordinarily thoughtfully and it's been difficult. I want to congratulate both of them for coming to the decision that is a terribly difficult one for them that this is, at this juncture, the only alternative to the pain and the suffering of which Ms. Velázquez spoke.
“I'm sure the citizens of Puerto Rico are watching this debate, and they understand this is not a perfect bill. It's not the bill I or Mr. [Pedro] Pierluisi, who lost an election in my view because of his fidelity to what he believes is the island's best interest. It forces Puerto Rico to take some bitter medicine, accept an oversight board with broad powers that is unacceptable to many living on the island, and it does not provide additional assistance to the island that is critically needed and ought to be done. Hopefully we can address that.
“It is a compromise and will enable the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to restructure its debt and prevent economic catastrophe. I can assure both sides of the aisle in this chamber and in the Senate that it is a compromise forged out of serious consideration of all possible alternatives that could result in bipartisan agreement. We must not risk the cost of further inaction by this Congress, which should have acted months ago, but it is not too late to do the right thing.
“Congress must act before Puerto Rico’s next interest payment is due on July 1. According to the New York Times editorial board, ‘this bill has flaws’ - I think both sides would agree to that - ‘but at this late [hour],’ the New York Times went on, ‘it offers the island its best chance of survival.’
“It is therefore, Mr. Speaker, my advice and urging to our Members that we vote for this bill. We need to come together and pass this bill without any controversial riders. Again, I want to thank Representatives Velázquez and Serrano and Resident Commissioner Pierluisi for their leadership and their courage and integrity.
“Mr. Chairman, we need to pass this bill for the American citizens living [in] Puerto Rico and to meet the responsibility of which Ms. Velázquez spoke so eloquently and I yield back.”