Liberal senators: Put Puerto Ricans on oversight board

A group of Senate liberals is pushing the White House and congressional leadership to appoint Puerto Rican representatives to an oversight board charged with handling the island’s $72 billion debt crisis. 

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Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders 'outraged' after MLB threatens to cut ties with minor league teams Booker leads other 2020 Dems in petition urging DNC to change debate qualifications Democrats threaten to skip next debate over labor dispute MORE (I-Vt), Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSaagar Enjeti says Corbyn's defeat in UK election represents 'dire warning' for Democrats Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Lankford to be named next Senate Ethics chairman MORE (D-N.J.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyMcConnell says he's 'honored' to be WholeFoods Magazine's 2019 'Person of the Year' Overnight Energy: Protesters plan Black Friday climate strike | 'Father of EPA' dies | Democrats push EPA to abandon methane rollback Warren bill would revoke Medals of Honor for Wounded Knee massacre MORE (D-Ore.) said the seven-person oversight board established by a bill passed last week should only include people with primary residences in Puerto Rico.

“The board will hold unprecedented power over the fiscal management and general governance of the island,” wrote the senators in two letters sent Thursday: one to President Obama and another to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay House Ethics Committee informs Duncan Hunter he can no longer vote after guilty plea MORE (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment CNN's Cuomo promotes 'Dirty Donald' hashtag, hits GOP for 'loyalty oath' to Trump MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidNevada journalist: Harry Reid will play 'significant role' in Democratic primary The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - A crucial week on impeachment The Hill's Morning Report — Pelosi makes it official: Trump will be impeached MORE (D-Nev.).

“The Puerto Rican people deserve this most basic respect,” the senators wrote.

The oversight board has broad power over Puerto Rico’s fiscal affairs. It’s charged with striking deals between the island and its creditors, and approving budgets; it can also override any act of the commonwealth’s government that it deems to violates its own actions or the bill that established the board.

Sanders, Menendez, Booker and Merkley all voted against the bill. Sanders and Menendez attempted to rally more opposition to the measure; it passed the Senate 68-30 last week and was signed by Obama the following the day.

Even Democrats who supported the bill took issue with the oversight board’s power and the process through which it’s appointed. The president is to appoint the board from lists of candidates submitted by congressional leaders, though it’s not mandated that any candidate be from Puerto Rico.

The letter’s authors said they’re “disappointed that the democratically elected representatives of Puerto Rico were not given any representation on the board, and we find it highly objectionable that neither they nor the people will be given an opportunity to weigh in on the establishment of the board.

“You should ensure that the board is composed of members who maintain a primary residence on the island and have a strong understanding of the structural causes of poverty in Puerto Rico and its socio-economic history,” they wrote.