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US and Puerto Rico Faith Groups Send Congress Recommendations on Island's Crisis

by Greg Friday, Sep. 02, 2016 at 1:32 PM

Religious leaders in Puerto Rico and Jubilee USA urged a new Congressional task force to reform US laws to promote economic growth in Puerto Rico.

Religious leaders in Puerto Rico and Jubilee USA urged a new Congressional task force to reform US laws to promote economic growth in Puerto Rico. The recommendations were formally submitted to the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico, created as part of Puerto Rico debt crisis legislation signed by President Obama in late June. The task force consists of eight members of Congress and is required to recommend changes to Federal laws and programs to spur economic growth, reduce child poverty and promote job creation in Puerto Rico.‎‎

"We are on the front lines of not just a debt crisis but a growing humanitarian crisis,” the religious leaders wrote. The leaders include San Juan's Catholic Archbishop Roberto González Nieves and Reverend Heriberto Martinez Rivera, General Secretary of the Puerto Rico Bible Society. "We believe Congress can take concrete actions to generate economic growth and reduce child poverty in Puerto Rico."

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) chairs the task force, which includes Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI), Representative Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Representative Pedro Pierluisi (D-Puerto Rico). The task force invited the public to send submissions to guide its work by September 2. The task force's work concludes December 31.

The religious development coalition, Jubilee USA submitted recommendations related to healthcare, income, energy and child poverty reduction policies. Jubilee led efforts to amend the Puerto Rico debt legislation to include reducing child poverty in the task force's mandate. Jubilee USA echoed Puerto Rico's religious leaders' call to reform the Supplemental Security Income program, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and Medicaid funding.

"In any recommendations that the task force makes, we urge you ensure that any recommendation will help alleviate child poverty on the island," noted Executive Director Eric LeCompte in Jubilee USA's submission to the task force.

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