In a significant victory for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the territory is no longer directly tied to the Puerto Rico Oversight Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), which passed the U.S. House of Representatives today.
The legislation passed after a change to a controversial provision in the Bill, which extended the option for an Oversight Board to preside over U.S. Territories outside of Puerto Rico.
Virgin Islands Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, a vocal opponent of the Oversight Board provision, thanked her fellow Members of Congress and the White House for considering the concerns of the Virgin Islands and the potential ramifications that may have arisen with the inclusion of the other insular territories in the measure.
“I would like to thank my colleagues and the Administration for working with my office to restore the bill to its original intent for a Puerto Rico Oversight Board focused on the economic challenges facing Puerto Rico, and for understanding the importance of the financial autonomy of the Virgin Islands and the other U.S. Territories, as well as the potentially negative impacts the Bill could have on our overall economic development. I understand the very difficult choice facing the People of Puerto Rico and my colleagues who voted in favor of PROMESA. As it stands, this bill offers the ability for the island to restructure 100 percent of its debt, while the only other option would force Puerto Rico to litigate with creditors and their lawyers in court.”
Plaskett, while pleased with the change to the provision affecting the U.S. Virgin Islands and the other territories, maintained that the bill is flawed, mainly as a result of the Republicans stripping recommendations for economic growth proposed by President Obama.
“Despite improvements to the Oversight Board and pension provisions, I believe that PROMESA still remains flawed. The proposed Oversight Board’s powers are overly broad, depriving the government of Puerto Rico of more authority than is necessary to achieve fiscal stability and economic growth. I am still of the belief the best solution is passing legislation which includes the recommendations of the White House. Legislation which focus more on better equipping Puerto Rico and the other territories with the mechanisms to grow their own economies rather than imposing Orwellian oversight boards,” Plaskett said.