The Serrano Report - Volume XIII, Issue #5
In Washington, DC
Congressman Serrano and Congresswoman Velázquez Issue Joint Statement on Natural Resources Puerto Rico Bill
Representatives José E. Serrano (D-NY-15) and Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY-7) issued the following statement regarding the public release of legislation affecting Puerto Rico:
“We thank Chairman Bishop for his efforts to draft legislation to address the financial crisis in Puerto Rico. We recognize this is a challenging process and that there are many stakeholders with different priorities. Our hope is that we can see our way through this and come together to give Puerto Rico a path forward.
“While recognizing that the bill is a draft and will evolve over coming weeks, we have several immediate concerns. First and foremost is that the oversight board, as currently structured, undermines Puerto Rico’s rule of law. It would allow the board to declare Puerto Rico’s own laws ‘null and void,’ while also permitting the board to enact its own laws over the objections of the island’s government. Such powers do not provide oversight, but rather usurp the role of Puerto Rico’s own democratically-elected government. Because of these concerns, we cannot support the legislation in its current form.
“With regard to the design of the restructuring portion of the legislation, we believe it is promising, but are hopeful further refinements can be made. To this point, we have asked that future drafts be revised to prioritize retirees and ensure their benefits are paid. This change would provide assurance to the many working class Puerto Ricans who rely heavily on their government-provided pensions.
Congressman Serrano Celebrates 6th Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act
Last week, Congressman Serrano joined Democratic Leader Pelosi and other Congressional colleagues to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. In only six years, the ACA has expanded health care to more than 20 million people, no one can be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, and young people can stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 years old, among other benefits. Click here to learn more: http://go.usa.gov/cACmA
Congressman Serrano Joins Bipartisan NY Democratic Delegation to Oppose TPP
Last week, Congressman Serrano also joined the NY Democratic delegation to once again oppose passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and announce a letter the will be sending to the Obama Administration denouncing the negative impact that the trade deal will have on workers and the environment.
“I’m proud to have joined my New York delegation colleagues to once again denounce the TPP and announce a letter we have sent the Administration opposing the deal. The TPP will hurt families, businesses, and the environment. We have already witnessed the effects that trade agreements like the TPP have on local communities and we can’t let another agreement further contribute to job displacement and income inequality.”
Ranking Member Serrano Asks Treasury Secretary Lew About PR’s Economic Crisis at Appropriations Hearing
Last Wednesday, Ranking Member Serrano asked Secretary Lew about the Treasury Department’s efforts to help Puerto Rico face the ongoing economic crisis on the island at a House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee hearing.
Lew responded that the Department has employees working with the Puerto Rican government on a number of financial issues, but that Congress needs to take comprehensive action.
“One area where your continued leadership is desperately needed is on the island of Puerto Rico," said Congressman Serrano in his opening statement. "The Treasury Department has been playing a leading role in helping to address the fiscal and economic crisis on the island. Last year’s omnibus bill included language allowing Treasury to provide technical assistance to Puerto Rico to help it work on ways to balance its books and improve its economy. While this is a good step, and I hope we will discuss it today, it is clear that more needs to be done by Congress on this issue. The humanitarian toll this is taking on American citizens is truly appalling. The Speaker has committed to action, and I expect him to keep his word.
“A significant contributor to the island’s fiscal woes is its continued inequitable treatment under numerous provisions of both the federal tax code and the federal grant programs. Your budget request proposes to remedy one of these issues by creating a mandatory funding stream that would essentially allow working families in Puerto Rico to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit, something that no one living on the island is currently eligible for. I commend you for this proposal, and believe it will provide some relief to families on the island,” said Congressman Serrano.
Click HERE for a video of the hearing.
Congressman Serrano Joins Senators Gillibrand and Warren, other Members of Congress, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Community Leaders to Call for Action to Help Puerto Rico
Last Tuesday, Congressman Serrano stood with U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Charles E. Schumer, Richard Blumenthal, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Grammy and Tony award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, and community leaders to speak out about the economic crisis in Puerto Rico and call for urgent action for Puerto Rico in Congress.
National Association of Postmasters of the US at their Legislative Forum
On Tuesday morning last week, Congressman Serrano gave remarks at the National Association of Postmasters of the U.S. (NAPUS) Legislative Forum. The Forum was part of the group’s 2016 Leadership Conference and provided attendees the opportunity to meet with legislators during their lobby day. Congressman Serrano discussed his work preventing service reductions at the U.S. Postal Service as the former Chairman and current Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, which has jurisdiction over the agency.
“I was pleased to welcome our nation’s Postmasters to Capitol Hill, and discuss the need to help address the problems the USPS is facing,” said Congressman José E. Serrano. “I will continue to do all that I can to preserve and protect this vital institution, which provides a reliable means of communication for millions of Americans and businesses. I continue to support 6 day delivery, maintaining service standards, and preventing post office closures, because cutting services is not the way to solve the USPS’s fiscal crisis.”
In the Bronx
Congressman Serrano and Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson Hold Public Forum on Taxpayer Services and Needs
On Friday March 18th, Congressman Serrano and National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson held a public forum at Hostos Community College to discuss what taxpayers want and need from the IRS to comply with their tax obligations. For the past several years, the IRS has been developing a “Future State” plan to lay out how the agency will operate in five years. The event featured representatives from the small business and local taxpayer communities.
“This tax season, I want to make sure taxpayers have access to the resources they need to submit their taxes on time. This event is one of a number of efforts I have been making in Congress and the Bronx to provide taxpayers with the information and help they need,” said Congressman Serrano. “With this event, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson and I also wanted to make sure that as the IRS makes plans for the future, the needs of Bronx residents are taken into consideration.”
Congressman Serrano Hosts first “Conversations with Congress” Series
Earlier this month, Congressman Serrano continued his "Conversations with Congress" series at Hostos Community College. He addressed dozens of students, faculty, and guests and spoke on national issues and how they affect the Bronx. Many students had questions about the ongoing debate on student debt and what Congress can do to level the playing field. Participants also asked about immigration reform and investing in our communities to foster the next generation of a competitive workforce.
Congressman Serrano stressed the importance of students getting involved in their local groups, organizations, community boards to further positively impact their communities. This “conversation” series will give the community the opportunity to talk to Congressman Serrano on a regular basis and express their needs and concerns.
"There are lots of issues that affect young adults, but I insist that everyone gets involved and find out what's happening and who are you leaders," said Congressman Serrano, "we must continue to stand up for you, but I urge you to stand with us and make sure that your voice is heard. I'm here to make sure that your voice is heard in Congress, and with your help, we can go a lot further."