December 9, 2015 11:29 AM

Hatch objects to passage of S.1774, Puerto Rico Chapter 9 Uniformity Act

Senator Schumer asked unanimous consent that the Senate take up and pass S.1774, Puerto Rico Chapter 9 Uniformity Act of 2015.

Senator Hatch objected.

Unofficial Transcript:

SCHUMER: I AM GOING TO ASK FOR A UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST

BUT SPEAK FOR A COUPLE OF MINUTES AND ENGAGE IN SOME DISCUSSION

WITH MY DEER FRIEND, THE SENIOR -- MY DEAR FRIEND, THE SENIOR

SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF UTAH. I WANT TO THAIPG HIM FOR COMING

TO THE FLOOR TODAY ON THIS ISSUE. I'M -- ON PUERTO RICO. I AM

HEARTENED HE HAS EXPRESSED INTEREST IN WORKING WITH US TO GET

DOES ON TO HELP OUR FELLOW CITIZENS IN PUERTO RICO. I ALSO WANT

TO THANK MY FRIENDS, THE SENATORS FROM CONNECTICUT, NEW JERSEY,

OREGON, WASHINGTON, ILLINOIS, AND MY COLLEAGUE FROM NEW YORK

WHO IS HERE FOR THEIR STEADFAST SUPPORT FOR HELPING PUERTO RICO

IN THIS TIME OF CRISIS. I RISE TODAY DEEPLY TROUBLED BY THE

DIRE ECONOMIC, FINANCIAL, AND HEALTH CARE SITUATION IN PUERTO

RICO. THE ISLAND IS FACING A FINANCIAL CRISIS, A HEALTH CARE

SYSTEM ON LIFE SUPPORT, AND THE SITUATION GROWS DIRE EACH

MONTH. PUERTO RICO IS $73 BILLION IN DEBT ALREADY AND LARGE

BOND PAYMENTS WILL CONTINUE TO COME DUE NEXT MONTH AND IN THE

MONTHS TO COME. SADLY, AS PUERTO RICO'S ECONOMY AND HEALTH CARE

SYSTEM HAS FLOUNDERED, RESIDENTS HAVE STARTED TO FLEE THEIR

HOMELAND. AS THE ECONOMIC SITUATION WORSENS, THE POPULATION

SHIFT FROM THE ISLAND TO THE MAINLAND WILL CONTINUE UNTIL THE

ONLY ONES LEFT ARE THOSE WITHOUT THE RESOURCES TO MOVE. WE WILL

HAVE A HUMANITARIAN CRISIS ON OUR HANDS. THERE ARE 3.5 MILLION

PEOPLE, PUERTO RICANS, LIVING ON THE ISLAND TODAY AND ANOTHER

5.2 MILLION LIVING IN THE UNITED STATES, INCLUDING OVER 1

MILLION IN MY STATE OF NEW YORK. WE HAVE A BASIC AMERICAN

RESPONSIBILITY TO AID ALL AMERICAN CITIZENS IN TIME OF CRISIS,

NO MATTER WHERE THEY LIVE. AND BEYOND THAT BASIC IMPERATIVE, IF

WE FAIL TO OFFER PUERTO RICO ASSISTANCE NOW, THE PROBLEM WILL

NOT BE CONTAINED TO THE ISLAND. SO WE NEED TO BE CONCERNED WITH

THESE ISSUES, NOT ONLY BECAUSE BRAINS ARE PART OF THE AMERICAN

-- PUERTO RICANS ARE PART OF THE AMERICAN ECONOMY, BECAUSE OUR

FAILURE COULD RESULT IN A PUERTO RICAN FINANCIAL CRISIS. I WANT

TO UNDERSCORE THIS POINT, MR. PRESIDENT. CONGRESS MUST

INTERVENE BEFORE THE CRISIS DEEPENS AND WIDENS. WE HAVE THE

TOOLS TO FIX THIS PROBLEM. THEY'RE SITTING IN THE TOOLBOX. THE

PROBLEM IS PUERTO RICO ISN'T ALLOWED TO USE THEM. LIKE CHAPTER

9 PROTECTIONS OWRCHEDZ THE BANKRUPTCY CODE. EVERY STATE IN THE

UNITED STATES CAN ACCESS CHAPTER 9 PROTECTIONS BUT PUERTO RICO,

BECAUSE IT IS A TERRITORY, CANNOT. PROVIDING PUERTO RICO THE

ABILITY TO RESTRUCTURE ITS DEBT IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY IF

PUERTO RICO IS GOING TO GET OUT FROM THIS FINANCIAL CRISIS. SO

SENATOR BLUMENTHAL AND I HAVE INTRODUCED LEGISLATION, WITH MANY

OF MY COLLEAGUE COLLEAGUES WHO WILL JOIN US TODAY, THAT WOULD

PUT PUERTO RICO ON ON EQUAL FOOTING WHEN THIS COMES TO CHAPTER

  1. AND AT THE VERY LEAST WE SHOULD PASS IT A WAY. THERE ARE
OTHER PROPOSALS AS WELL. THERE ARE HEALTH AND ECONOMIC

PROTECTIONS AS WELL. I WANT TO STRESS TO MY COLLEAGUES THAT

GIVING PUERTO RICO THE RESTRUCTURING AUTHORITY IN OUR BILL

ISN'T A BAILOUT AND WON'T REQUIRE ANY ARE ADDITIONAL SPENDING.

IT WON'T COST THE TAXPAYERS ONE PLUG NICKEL BUT IT'LL DO A

WHOLE LOT OF GOOD FOR OW FRIENDS IN PUERTO RICO. ON THE HEALTH

CARE FRONT, I'VE INTRODUCED A BILL WITH MANY OF MY SAME

COLLEAGUES TO ADDRESS SEVERAL ASPECTS OF THE HEALTH CARE CRISIS

LIKE ISSUES LIKE MEDICAID FUNDING AND FAIRNESS, APPROPRIATE

REIMBURSEMENT RATES AND EQUITABLE PHYSICIAN PAYMENTS. THE

DISPARITIES IN HOW THE MEDICARE AND MEDICAID PROGRAMS TREAT

PUERTO RICO AND OUR OTHER TERRITORIES ARE SIGNIFICANT AND NEED

TO BE ADDRESSED. NOW, I'M GOING TO BE -- IN CONCLUSION, I'M

GOING TO BE THE FIRST TO ADMIT THAT NEITHER OF THESE BILLS IS

THE SILVER BULLET TO SOLVE ALL OF PUERTO RICO'S PROBLEMS, NOR

ARE THEY THE ONLY POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS. WE'RE MORE THAN WILLING

TO WORK WITH, AGAIN, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE AND

A GOOD FRIEND WHO I KNOW CARES ABOUT THE PUERTO RICAN ISSUE, TO

FIND OTHER SOLUTIONS AND CRAFT BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION SO LONG

AS IT PROVIDES HELP TO PUERTO RICO. BUT THE CLOCK IS TICKING.

WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME. CONGRESS MUST ACT NOW TO ADDRESS

THESE ISSUES THAT ARE STIFLING PUERTO RICO'S ECONOMY AND WAY OF

LIFE. WE MUST GIVE THESE TOOLS -- WE MUST GIVE THEM THE TOOLS

THEY NEED TO SOLVE THESE PROBLEMS.