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Puerto Rico Rescue Bill Moves Forward

Vote comes ahead of Friday deadline for default on debt

 Puerto Rican flags hang from windows. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
 Puerto Rican flags hang from windows. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate agreed Wednesday to move forward with legislation to rescue Puerto Rico from its fiscal crisis just days ahead of a July 1 deadline when the island would default on as much as $2 billion in debt.  

Despite reservations from Democrats and Republicans alike, the Senate voted 68-32 to close debate on a measure already approved by the House.  

The bill would give the island territory a path out of its fiscal hole, creating a financial oversight board that could begin restructuring the debts in federal district court if negotiations between creditors and the Puerto Rican government don’t succeed.   

Some Democrats objected to language in the bill creating an oversight board to guide Puerto Rico’s fiscal matters, while Republicans worried that the measure was effectively bailing out the territory.  

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Treasury Secretary Pushes for Vote on Puerto Rico

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Time is running short, as Puerto Rico faces a July 1 debt payment of $2 billion, $800 million of which is general obligation debt. That latter debt must be paid ahead of all other spending on the island. Puerto Rico has said it cannot make the payment, and has already defaulted three times on other debt.  

If the bill is signed into law before July 1, it would preclude bondholder lawsuits over the missed payment. Still, many financial analysts fear the impact a missed payment would have on markets.


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