Professor Andrew Kent testified before Congress on April 13 during a hearing to discuss a piece of bipartisan legislation that addresses Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis. The testimony was heard by the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Some critics of the bill, known as the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, have suggested that it could be extended to a U.S. state. Kent refuted this, citing a portion of Article Four of the Constitution known as the Territory Clause.
“Congress has well-established and long-exercised power under this clause to treat territories differently from each other, and to treat territories differently than it treats U.S. States,” he said. “In my judgment, this clause serves as an independent and sufficient basis on which Congress may enact the contemplated legislation.”
Alumnus Susheel Kirpalani ’94 also gave testimony at the hearing. He averred that the bill does not grant Puerto Rico access to Chapter 9 bankruptcy nor does it resemble a congressional bailout, as some detractors have claimed.
“There are two myths I’d like to dispel today,” he said. “The first, which I’ve seen on television—I’m sure some of you have seen that or your families have seen it—that ‘this is a bailout.’ This is not a bailout. This involves no taxpayer money, this bill. The second one is ‘this is Super Chapter 9.’ I have a lot of experience with Chapter 9, this is no Chapter 9.”
Other witnesses, including Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury Antonio Weiss, supported Kent’s and Kirpalani’s testimony.