Chairman Crowley, House Democrats Urge Congress to Pass Bipartisan Legislation to Provide Comprehensive Relief to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

October 16, 2017

(Queens, N.Y.) – House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY), along with 18 Democratic members of Congress, sent a letter today to the Ways and Means Committee urging the tax-writing panel to move forward with legislation to provide comprehensive relief to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other U.S. territories or states affected by natural disasters.

U.S. tax law, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, treats Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands differently than mainland states – putting the families living there at a disadvantage. In a letter to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the House Democrats pushed for an end to this unequal treatment as hard-working families in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands can swiftly recover.

“As the leaders of the most powerful committee in the House of Representatives, we urge you to convene the Committee on Ways and Means as soon as possible to pass bipartisan legislation to provide comprehensive relief to these hard-hit areas, addressing both their immediate needs as well as the issues they will face over the long-term recovery,” the lawmakers wrote. “Understanding the deeper needs of our fellow Americans in these U.S.  territories, the Committee can and must do more – especially in the areas of individual relief, employment and job assistance, disaster relief, environmental remediation, and housing aid.”

The letter calls for immediate action to increase the allocation of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to help those whose home were destroyed, provide additional funding for the New Markets Tax Credits to help restart the private sector business, and make permanent excise taxes to help re-start the territory’s economies.

The letter also calls for legislation that would extend the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit to Puerto Rico. Additionally, the legislators call on the Ways and Means Committee to address the disparities in reimbursement rates in Medicare and Medicaid between Americans living in the mainland and those in the territories.

The letter was also signed by Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Stacey E. Plaskett (D-VI), Mike Thompson (D-CA), José E. Serrano (D-NY), Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Darren Soto (D-FL), Sander M. Levin (D-MI), John Lewis (D-GA), John B. Larson (D-CT), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Terri A. Sewell (D-AL), Suzan K. DelBene (D-WA), and Judy Chu (D-CA).

Read the full letter here.