Leaders appoint allies, adversaries to Puerto Rico growth task force

Key supporters and opponents of a recently signed bill to help Puerto Rico manage more than $70 billion in debt are now assigned to find out how the commonwealth got into its financial crisis.

Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: FTC reportedly settles with Facebook for B fine | Trump calls to regulate Facebook's crypto project | Court rules Pentagon can award B 'war cloud' contract | Study shows automation will hit rural areas hardest Court rules Pentagon can award B 'war cloud' contract later this summer Rubio asks White House to delay B Pentagon contract over Amazon concerns   MORE (R-Fla.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (R-Utah), Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDem senators demand GOP judicial group discloses donors Senate passes .5B border bill, setting up fight with House Senate to vote on blocking Trump's Saudi arms deal as soon as this week MORE (D-N.J.) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDemocrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Poll: Six Democrats lead Trump in Florida match-ups How Jim Bridenstine recruited an old enemy to advise NASA MORE (D-Fla.) along with Reps. Sean DuffySean Patrick DuffyKeep our elections free and fair Fox News contributor Campos-Duffy compares abortion to slavery Carson on HUD eviction plan: 'You take care of your own first' MORE (R-Wis.), Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi (D-Puerto Rico) have been appointed by congressional leaders to the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico.

The task force was created through a bill signed July 1 and is responsible for developing ways to bolster Puerto Rico’s crumbling economy. The eight-member task force operates separately from a seven-person oversight board with control over Puerto Rico’s finances.


The task force will consist of two appointees from each of the four congressional party leaders: House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJuan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller House Republicans dismissive of Paul Ryan's take on Trump Amash's critics miss the fact that partisanship is the enemy of compromise MORE (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhat Democrats should say about guns This week: House Dems voting to hold Barr, Ross in contempt Juan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSteyer's impeachment solution is dead wrong The Hill's Morning Report - House Democrats clash over next steps at border Democrats look to demonize GOP leader MORE (D-Nev.).

Pierluisi — Puerto Rico’s nonvoting delegate to Congress — bucked popular opinion in Puerto Rico and supported the bill as the only possible fix. 

Velázquez, born in Puerto Rico and the top Democrat on the House Small Business Committee, endorsed the bill shortly before it passed the House with majorities of both parties supporting it.

“I am confident that Congresswoman Velazquez and Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi's strong voices will make the Task Force all the more effective as Congress considers next steps to restore robust economic growth to Puerto Rico,” said Pelosi, who appointed the duo, in a statement.

Duffy, the bill's co-sponsor, and MacArthur, who offered an amendment to exempt much of Puerto Rico's debt from the bill, were appointed by Ryan, according to a statement.

Rubio and Hatch were appointed by McConnell, according to a statement from Rubio.

Rubio was the first Senate Republican to endorse the bill after the House passed it and helped rally GOP support behind it. Hatch, the Senate Finance Committee chairman and the longest-tenured GOP senator, also supported the bill, which passed the Senate comfortably.

“Congress has a responsibility to create the conditions that will spur job creation, reduce poverty and drive investment in the island,” said Rubio. “This is one of the first steps in the process of turning Puerto Rico around, and I’m eager for the opportunity to share my pro-growth agenda for Puerto Rico as a part of this task force.”

Nelson, one of the bill's first Senate Democratic supporters, and Menendez, who vehemently opposed the bill, were appointed by Reid, according an aide.

Puerto Rico’s economy has crumbled under the weight of its debt. Without access to credit, the commonwealth can’t afford to keep essential medical and educational services running as thousands of Puerto Ricans flee to the mainland for greater economic prospects. 

The commonwealth has defaulted more than $2 billion in debt since May, and credit rating companies have downgraded Puerto Rican bonds to junk level.  

--Updated at 2:17 p.m.