McConnell: House moving first on Puerto Rico debt bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that the upper chamber will wait for the House to pass legislation on Puerto Rico’s growing debt crisis as lawmakers struggle to reach a deal.  

“We’re going to let the House go first on Puerto Rico. We know it needs to be dealt with, and we’re in discussions with them about what ought to be done,” he told reporters.
{mosads}His comments came after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters earlier Tuesday that he doesn’t think Congress will be able to pass legislation before a crucial deadline. 
The island territory is at risk of defaulting on a $422 million payment due May 1. Lawmakers are scheduled to leave town at the end of the week and won’t return until May 9. 
Senators in both parties have rolled out legislation aimed at tackling Puerto Rico’s financial crisis, but they remain deeply divided over giving the island access to bankruptcy courts. 
Meanwhile, a House bill has stalled amid pushback from both parties. 
Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and 10 Senate Democrats released a statement on the House bill earlier this month, suggesting it wouldn’t be able to pass the Senate. 

“We have concerns about whether the debt restructuring process provided for in the bill is workable, and we believe that — despite improvements — the oversight board has excessive powers and an unacceptable appointment structure,” they wrote. 

Democrats argue that any legislation must allow Puerto Rico to restructure all of its debt, despite strong opposition from House Republicans. 

Senate Republicans will need the support of at least six Democrats to get legislation over procedural hurdles.

Tags Harry Reid Mitch McConnell

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