U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Nydia Velázquez called Wednesday for the Oversight Board to eliminate all of Puerto Rico’s public sector debt.

“The bottom line is that Puerto Rico is insolvent; [Hurricane Maria’s] devastation and concomitant accelerated outmigration has deteriorated the island’s repayment capacity,” Warren, D-Mass., and Velázquez, D-N.Y., wrote to Oversight Board chairman José Carrión III. “Unless the debt is completely written off, the economy will be permanently destroyed.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, questions Janet Yellen, chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, not pictured, during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, July 13, 2017.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren said that without a complete debt write-off, Puerto Rico's economy will be permanently destroyed. Bloomberg News

Warren and Velázquez cc’d the other members of the board, board executive director Natalie Jaresko, and Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s non-voting board member, Christian Sobrino Vega.

“Puerto Rico’s budget should go to rebuilding the island and addressing its ongoing humanitarian crisis, not paying Wall Street vulture funds,” Warren said.

The lawmakers’ call comes the same day as the board’s chief lawyer, Martin Bienenstock, said that the board plans to ask for Puerto Rico to pay no debt for five years, according to Bloomberg News.

Bienenstock made the remark at a Title III bankruptcy court hearing.

Puerto Rico’s government, its instrumentalities, and its municipalities had $73.8 billion in public sector debt as of February, according to the board’s fiscal plan.

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