Congressman Serrano Leads Bicameral Letter Urging Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to Expedite and Expand Community Disaster Loan for Puerto Rico
Community Disaster Loan Process Has Already been Delayed for More than Four Months
Washington, DC – Today, Congressman José E. Serrano, a longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee, led a bicameral letter with 57 of his colleagues to Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin urging him to expedite the Community Disaster Loan process so that Puerto Rico has sufficient funds to offer essential services to its residents. According to recent reports, the loan amount offered to Puerto Rico is $2.06 billion instead of the $4.7 billion appropriated by Congress last year. The Treasury Department has also sought to impose stringent repayment terms on the loan. Congressman Serrano and his colleagues in both chambers urged the Secretary to offer the full loan amount and act in good faith.
Puerto Rico has already been forced to provide the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) an emergency loan for $300 million to ensure they can continue delivering already limited electricity services, adding an unnecessary burden on the government and the people of Puerto Rico at a time of deep fiscal distress. Onerous loan terms would only further undermine local recovery efforts and capacity to offer basic services. In addition to Congressman Serrano, the following Members signed the letter:
Senators Warren, Blumenthal, Gillibrand, and Menendez, as well as Representatives Soto, Velázquez, Gutiérrez, Crowley, Norton, Espaillat, Meng, Jayapal, Schakowsky, Sean Patrick Maloney, Hastings, Murphy, Brady, Carson, Grijalva, Shea-Porter, Ellison, Sires, Tsongas, Norcross, Hank Johnson, Frederica S. Wilson, Kathleen M. Rice, Kaptur, Wasserman Schultz, Vargas, Torres, Crist, Esty, Pallone, Carolyn B. Maloney, Visclosky, McGovern, Engel, Boyle, Pascrell, Sablan, Neal, Brown, Moore, Moulton, Lewis, McNerney, Danny K. Davis, Larson, Clay, Lynch, DeSaulnier, Watson Coleman, DeLauro, Lee, Cleaver, and Garamendi.
“Puerto Rico remains in deep fiscal distress. The Department of the Treasury should—instead of acting like a bank or hedge fund in the quest for profit—offer a helping hand by offering generous terms on the loan in order to incentivize a quick recovery on the island. To this date, more than six months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the island almost 20 percent of the people of Puerto Rico have no power. More than 300,000 people have left the island and many more will do so unless the federal government does more to provide relief. Fully funding a loan at $4.7 billion will help the Puerto Rican government and its 78 municipalities provide basic services for its residents and prevent a mass exodus. Absent such a request, it seems likely that the Puerto Rican government will simply not have the necessary funds to operate at full capacity,” wrote the members.
Congressman José E. Serrano has represented The Bronx in Congress since 1990. He is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.