As the House conducts floor debate on H.R. 5278, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), National Taxpayers Union (NTU) offers the following guidance.
NTU will consider “No” votes on the following amendments to be the pro-taxpayer position:
Torres (D-CA), striking section 403: This amendment would reverse a modest reform allowing the Governor limited flexibility to grant exemptions from the federal minimum wage requirements for some employees hired after PROMESA’s enactment. Congress should be strengthening rather than weakening this provision.
Serrano (D-NY), clarifying the role of the Puerto Rico Commission for the Audit of the Public Debt: This amendment would unjustifiably elevate an entity whose slanted “findings” about the legitimacy of certain debts have undermined rule of law. The Commission’s agenda has often sowed confusion, to the advantage of bloated, unsustainable government pension programs that are deeply in the red.
NTU will consider “Yes” votes on the following amendments to be the pro-taxpayer position:
Byrne (R-AL, two amendments), to require regular reporting on territorial debt levels and to specify a deadline for the Comptroller General’s assessment of Puerto Rico’s fiscal conditions and options to prevent state and territorial debt crises in the future: In most policy contexts NTU supports amendments that help to increase the likelihood that fiscal analyses and reforms are made on a timely and comprehensive basis.
Bishop (R-UT), manager’s amendment: This amendment would helpfully allow the oversight entity to rescind laws (such as those affecting creditor prioritization) for a limited period prior to the entity’s appointment, and would narrow the window within which the President must act on its nominees. Both actions help to reduce the possibility of mischief in the law’s implementation that could harm taxpayers.
Several other amendments are being offered to PROMESA (including proposed expansion of HUB Zones, to which NTU does not object). However, Members will not be able to vote on further refinements that we urged the Rules Committee to make in order (see our communication online here). The Senate may shortly need to consider additional provisions aimed at providing further protections for rule of law in debt restructuring and encouraging pro-growth tax and regulatory reforms for the Commonwealth.
The bill before you today may not be ideal from a taxpayer’s perspective, but the House Natural Resources Committee and Leadership have made significant, praiseworthy progress in improving the initial legislative response to Puerto Rico’s financial instability.
The pro-taxpayer weight NTU assigns to a “Yes” vote on final passage will reflect this improvement, as well as the results of votes on the amendments outlined above.
If you have any questions, please contact NTU Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift (703) 683-5700