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Old 05-23-2016, 06:51 AM
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Mary Pat Campbell
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Join Date: Nov 2003
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http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireS...elays-39219754

Quote:
Congress, White House Strike Rescue Deal for Puerto Rico

House Republicans and Democrats reached a rare, election-year deal with the White House to try to rescue Puerto Rico from $70 billion in debt as millions of Americans in the cash-strapped U.S. territory struggle with the loss of basic services.

A revised House bill introduced late Wednesday would create a board to help manage the territory's financial obligations and restructure some debt. Negotiations between the Obama administration and House Speaker Paul Ryan's office helped finalize the legislation.

It is a "fair, but tough bipartisan compromise," Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said.

Ryan, R-Wis., said the legislation would avoid an eventual taxpayer bailout.

Puerto Rico, mired in a decade-long recession, already has missed several payments to creditors. A $2 billion installment, the largest yet, is due July 1.

......
Like U.S. states, Puerto Rico cannot declare bankruptcy. The legislation would allow the control board to oversee negotiations with creditors and the courts over reducing some debt.

The compromise "achieved a restructuring process that can work," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said.

A vote could happen next week in the Natural Resources Committee. The panel's chairman, Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, had to cancel a vote last month amid objections from both parties.

Since then, Bishop and Ryan have worked to win over conservatives who worry the rescue might set a precedent for financially ailing states. Democrats, too, had to be persuaded the control board wouldn't be too powerful and debt restructuring too difficult.

.....
In a nod to Democrats, the final bill also removes a provision that would have transferred federal land on the nearby island of Vieques to Puerto Rico's government. But Puerto Rico would be allowed to temporarily lower federal minimum wage requirements for some workers, which Democrats have opposed.

Still, Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said the bill still isn't "consistent with our country's basic democratic principles." He wants a less powerful board that can't fully control the island's finances.

Under the legislation, the control board would require Puerto Rico to create a fiscal plan. That includes directing the territory to provide adequate funds for public pensions, which the government has underfunded by more than $40 billion.

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