House to Vote on Torres Amendment Removing Minimum Wage Provision in Puerto Rico Bill
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House of Representatives will debate an amendment offered by Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-Pomona) that removes a provision from H.R. 5278, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability At (PROMESA) that allows the minimum wage to be lowered for workers under 25.
“The minimum wage provision in this bill is bad for young workers, and it’s bad for Puerto Rico,” said Torres. “It does not fix the island’s problems and in the long run, may make them worse. The island is already experiencing a mass exodus of young people. Lowering wages will only compel more young people to leave and will have a detrimental impact on Puerto Rico’s current and future workforce, its tax base, and ultimately its ability to repay its debt.”
Under the current bill, the Governor of Puerto Rico can request to the Puerto Rico Oversight and Control Board the authority to lower the minimum wage for workers age 25 and under to $4.25 for four years. Additionally, the bill is not clear on whether the Governor can only request the wage reduction once for a period of four years or can renew the request every four years, thereby maintaining the lower wage indefinitely for as long as the Control Board is in place.
“Lowering the minimum wage sets a troubling precedent, particularly given the uncertainty regarding the bill’s language,” continued Torres. “If we want to help Puerto Rico overcome this current crisis, we need to make sure the island is a place where young people can see a future, start a family, and grow a business, not a place that devalues their work and their contributions. There is no question that Puerto Rico will need to make sacrifices, but it can’t do so on the backs of these hard-working, young American citizens.”
The amendment was made in order by the House Committee on Rules yesterday evening and was cosponsored by Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Lois Capps (D-CA), Patrick Murphy (D-FL), Alan Grayson (D-FL), and Jared Polis (D-CO). Torres had previously offered this amendment when the bill was reviewed by the House Natural Resources Committee. However, the amendment was ruled non-germane, because that portion of the legislation was not under the purview of the Committee, and the amendment did not receive a vote.