If he were to win in the U.S. presidential elections, Democratic candidate Joe Biden claimed he would support an audit of Puerto Rico's public debt, revert the austerity policy enforced by the Financial Oversight and Management Board, and begin a "fair and binding process" to define the island's status.
"As President, Biden will work with representatives who support each of the status options in Puerto Rico to engage in a fair and binding process to determine their own status," reads 'The Biden-Harris Plan for Recovery, Renewal and Respect for Puerto Rico' on the candidate's website.
The plan also alleges that Biden's administration would be committed to shifting the focus of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa), established in 2016 under the Obama administration, under which Biden served as vice president.
During a webinar with local and U.S. media, Biden Campaign Director Julie Rodríguez, Senior Adviser Carmel Martín, and Javier Cuevas—director of the Florida Coalition—outlined the proposals by Biden and his pick for vice president, former rival Kamala Harris.
Rodríguez said that Puerto Rico and the three million North American citizens who reside on the island will have the necessary resources to face the economic challenges. "You deserve fair treatment, an opportunity to get ahead," Rodríguez stated.
In the plan, they criticized President Donald Trump's handling of Puerto Rico, even furthering an unconfirmed claim that Trump supposedly asked if he could exchange Puerto Rico for Greenland—a rumor spread on news media without verification.
[LINK THE CASE FOR SNAP]
In concrete terms, Biden proposes to create a "federal working group" for Puerto Rico that would report directly to the president so that the island can have the necessary resources for its recovery, to rebuild the island's infrastructure, to ensure that recovery funds benefit local business owners, to condone natural disaster loans for municipalities, and to speed up access to the funds allocated after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017.
The plan also claims that his administration would protect retirees in any debt restructure, as well as for Puerto Rico to have access to Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).
Biden reportedly intends to expand investment in community health centers, increase the portfolio of health care providers, work to ensure that Puerto Rico can participate in the Medicaid program on par with other U.S. jurisdictions, and address Medicare Advantage payment rates. His plan also states that it will strengthen and improve the electrical system of Puerto Rico.
In his plan, Biden is committed to expanding access to education and training for the workforce. To do this, it assures that it will triple Title I funds for schools that serve children from low-income families and will provide all the funds of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
This would mean a total of more than $1.2 billion in funding under Title I and almost $300 million under IDEA. These amounts would be added to another $100,000 million, which would reportedly provide for the construction of schools in the nation, including specific funds designated for the island. In addition, the plan states that it will invest in the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) as an engine of economic growth.