Governor details agenda in DC, besides presenting admission bill

By John McPhaul

During his most recent visit to Washington, D.C., Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia participated in the filing of the bill introduced by Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón for the admission of Puerto Rico as a state.

The governor also held meetings on the bill, whose co-sponsors now number 52 members of Congress, as well as other issues of importance to Puerto Rico, with various U.S. lawmakers and members of the White House task force.

“It is time for Congress to act; we have been American citizens for over 100 years and the time has come for us to have equality,” the governor said in a press release. “Our people sent a clear message and this bill by the Resident Commissioner and Congressman Soto is the answer to that mandate. Those of us who aspire to Equality will never consent to the discrimination and inequality that we have when, despite being American citizens, just because we live in Puerto Rico we do not have the same rights as those who reside in the states.”

The meeting with members of the White House team was attended by the director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Julie Chávez Rodríguez, as well as the director of the National Economic Council, Brian Deese, and Erin Pelton from the Council for Internal Policy.

Also present at the meeting were Carmel Martin, deputy director of the Council for Internal Economic Affairs, and Cristóbal J. Alex, deputy secretary of the Cabinet. During the exchange, the governor spoke about the importance of equality for American citizens in Supplemental Security Income as well as inclusion in the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and matching the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Similarly, he addressed the issue of the need for a fair and permanent allocation under the Medicaid program and the transition requested by commonwealth Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés regarding Law 154 on credit to foreign companies on the island.

In addition to various interviews in national media to address the issue of status on the island, the governor met with the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), with whom he discussed including Puerto Rico in any increase to the federal minimum wage.

Pierluisi communicated to Neal that Puerto Rico should also be included in any proposal for tax relief or credits for small and midsize businesses. In addition, Puerto Rico should be included in any tax relief or credit proposal for small and midsize businesses, he said. He also discussed the issue of attracting the medical equipment and biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry to the island.

The governor also met with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) with whom, in addition to the status issue, he discussed the importance of the Senate approving the inclusion of Puerto Rico in the CTC and EITC programs.

“The inclusion of Puerto Rico in these programs is an advance in the claim of equal rights for Puerto Ricans, will promote economic growth on the island and will help our families and communities,” the governor said.

Pierluisi also held meetings with Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.). In the conversation with Ossoff, the governor spoke about the importance of including Puerto Rico in the American Rescue Plan and about the admission bill presented in Congress, among other issues. Similarly, with Casey he also discussed the issue of the CTC and the EITC, and Medicaid funds.

The governor also held a meeting with the work team of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), with whom he discussed the issue of status, and that he does not favor cutting pensions in the Fiscal Adjustment Plan. Likewise, he advocated for a fair and recurring allocation of Medicaid funds for Puerto Rico and thanked Pelosi for the work done with the American Rescue Plan in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor returned to Puerto Rico on Thursday, as he indicated along with a photo on his social media accounts.