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From our Expert Voices conversation on Puerto Rico's recovery from Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico requires extensive assistance from the federal government, starting with a waiver of matching requirements for FEMA programs. The local economy simply will not be able to generate the necessary tax revenues.

Now is also the time for Congress to pass a long-term waiver of the Jones Act, end the Medicaid policies that treat Puerto Rico differently from states and cap total reimbursement, and issue a Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery to rebuild infrastructure, housing and businesses and implement coastal resiliency programs.

Further down the line, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has to be reformed. As a public monopoly, PREPA is inefficient, subject to political influences in decision-making and governed by the interests of bondholders. It is imperative to promote the development of a smart grid and to modernize the transmission system, in addition to encouraging alternative sources of energy.

Last, Congress should heed the recommendations of its own Task Force on Economic Growth for Puerto Rico: equal treatment for the island under the Child Tax Credit (CTC) program, an extension of the Earned Income Tax Credit and support for business development.

The bottom line: It is time for Congress to act before the humanitarian crisis facing 3.4 million American citizens reaches a point of no return.

Other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will not seek re-election in 2022

Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speaking during a press conference in November 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, said Wednesday that he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) will not seek third terms in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.

3 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.