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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

6 hours ago - World

Top general: U.S. losing time to deter China

Stanley McChrystal. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Stanley McChrystal, a top retired general and Biden adviser, tells Axios that "China's military capacity has risen much faster than people appreciate," and the U.S. is running out of time to counterbalance that in Asia and prevent a scenario such as it seizing Taiwan.

Why it matters: McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, recently briefed the president-elect as part of his cabinet of diplomatic and national security advisers. President-elect Joe Biden is considering which Trump- or Obama-era approaches to keep or discard, and what new strategies to pursue.

Progressives shift focus from Biden's Cabinet to his policy agenda

Joe Biden giving remarks in Wilmington, Del., last month. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Some progressives tell Axios they believe the window for influencing President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet selections has closed, and they’re shifting focus to policy — hoping to shape Biden's agenda even before he’s sworn in.

Why it matters: The left wing of the party often draws attention for its protests, petitions and tweets, but this deliberate move reflects a determination to move beyond some fights they won't win to engage with Biden strategically, and over the long term.

Dave Lawler, author of World
8 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.