By Bill de Blasio & Bob Buckhorn
Time is running out for Congress to help save Puerto Rico from a financial debacle that could very soon turn into a humanitarian crisis. The magnitude of this emergency, and its effect on all Americans, cannot be overstated. We have heard from Puerto Rican, congressional and local leaders across the country that we need urgent action. We are joining a coalition of mayors representing more than 1 million Puerto Ricans on the U.S. mainland in urging Congress to help our fellow Americans by restoring the commonwealth’s bankruptcy protections in the omnibus appropriations funding bill.
The problem is straightforward, and so is its solution: Most analysts agree that Puerto Rico has run out of money to pay its creditors and is deploying onerous and unsustainable emergency liquidity actions.
Governor Alejandro García Padilla has warned that Puerto Rico is close to defaulting on $72 billion in loans owed by the island and its public corporations. Forcing the island to pay this debt would lead to severe layoffs and furloughs. The failure to pay its obligations would result in the gradual collapse of local institutions, higher unemployment, further brain drain and loss of critical services — unless the federal government intervenes now.
Our obligation to support and protect Puerto Rico in its time of need — to help our fellow Americans — should be self-evident.
From Tampa to New York, from Philadelphia to Milwaukee, our cities are strengthened by Puerto Rican communities. This crisis creates unsustainable financial burdens for many of our cities’ families and touches us very closely.