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U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today released the following statement in support of the rally today in Puerto Rico at the SOMOS Conference to address the looming financial and healthcare crisis in Puerto Rico. Schumer is a sponsor of the Improving the Treatment of the U.S. Territories under Federal Programs Act of 2015 (S.1961) and the Puerto Rico Chapter 9 Uniformity Act (S.1774).

“Three and a half million Americans in Puerto Rico are facing a dire economic crisis and a health care system on life support; but in trying to address these crises, Puerto Rico is operating with one hand tied behind its back. They are unable to access Chapter 9 bankruptcy protections extended to every other state and municipal government in the United States and they are constantly getting the short end of the stick when it comes to health care reimbursements from the federal government.

Fair treatment for Americans in Puerto Rico and their families in all 50 states is long overdue. Congress must pass two pieces of legislation I am sponsoring: one to provide Puerto Rico with the same treatment U.S. states currently enjoy under federal health programs and one to allow Puerto Rico access to Chapter 9 bankruptcy protections. Neither of these bills are silver bullets, but together they give Puerto Rico the tools they need to get back on their feet.

We should all be concerned with these issues because Puerto Ricans are part of the American family and, as fellow Americans, we have a basic responsibility to aid all U.S. citizens in times of need. Furthermore, we in Congress bear a special responsibility to come to Puerto Rico’s aid because part of the reason for Puerto Rico’s current health care crisis is its second-class-citizen status under several federal health care programs. It’s time to finally end that disparity – untie the hand bound behind its back — and reach out a helping hand of our own.

Along with many of my friends and colleagues in New York and in the Senate, I stand with Puerto Rico, and I will do everything in my power to impress upon my colleagues the urgent need to pass these two bills as soon as humanly possible.”

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer