Language in the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act may go to the House floor on Thursday lacking language that could have proven to be a financial hurdle for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The legislation, which is intended to address the Puerto Rico debt crisis, initially included language saying “a Financial Oversight and Management Board for a territory is established in accordance with this section only if the Legislature of the territory adopts a resolution signed by the governor requesting the establishment.”
If approved and signed into law, that left it open for an oversight board at some future time in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The law would give the board authority over debt and repayment, which some — including V.I. Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett — have said could make financing more expensive when the territory floated bonds on the market.
U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., introduced an amendment that would limit the creation of a management board to only Puerto Rico.
However, Plaskett’s spokesman, Richard Motta said Tuesday that the amendment had been withdrawn.
Motta said Plaskett believes that Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, will address the concern before the full House votes on the bill Thursday.
“We think that he thinks the language is unfair, too,” Motta said, noting that Plaskett thinks the language will be removed from the bill on Thursday.
“I am pleased that Chairman Bishop has made a commitment to working on language regarding the other territories,” Plaskett said last week.
She said changing the language, or adoption of the MacArthur amendment, would have restored the bill to its original intent for a Puerto Rico Oversight Board and essentially uphold the financial autonomy of the Virgin Islands and the other U.S. territories, which will allow for the Virgin Islands to continue in the bond market without changes to investor risk assessment.
“I have spoken with House leadership and they have committed to having substantive discussions on how to alleviate concerns of the Virgin Islands and other territories, as well as supporting future legislation that will offer real economic support and equitable treatment to the territories,” she said.