Congress needs to avoid creating an unelected oversight board that could exacerbate Puerto Rico’s debt crisis even further, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Friday.
“There is a humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico that Congress and the administration must address as soon as possible,” Sanders said in a statement. “But let me be clear: Establishing an unelected oversight board that would be given the power to inflict even more economic pain on the 3.5 million American citizens in Puerto Rico would be a move in exactly the wrong direction.”
He blamed the island’s current soverign debt crunch on investment banks and so-called vulture funds, and said the investors must accept “a significant haircut.” He also signaled support for granting the island the authority to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy.
“Congress must act immediately to give Puerto Rico the same authority granted to every municipality in this country to restructure its debt under the supervision of a bankruptcy court,” he said.
New York, which has one of the largest populations of people of Puerto Rican origin in the country, will hold its presidential primary for both major parties on April 19.
One of the first members of Congress to endorse Sanders was Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, who serves as the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee — the main House panel handling the Puerto Rico issue. Republicans on that committee this week released draft legislation on the crisis that includes a strong restructuring board and a debt-restructuring mechanism, but stops short of granting San Juan Chapter 9 authority.