Lew Urges Congress to Send Puerto Rico Bill to Obama by March

  • Puerto Rico needs restructuring, fiscal oversight, Lew says
  • Lew will travel to Puerto Rico Jan. 20, meet governor

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew urged Congressional Republicans to make good on a promise to assist Puerto Rico and pass legislation for President Barack Obama to sign into law before the end of March.

“To address the crisis, Puerto Rico needs federal legislation that pairs an orderly process to restructure its debts with strong, independent fiscal oversight to remedy its history of fiscal mismanagement,” Lew said in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan Friday. “This combination is not new and has proven effective in other jurisdictions in the United States addressing financial crises like that facing Puerto Rico today.”

Lew said he will travel to the island, struggling with $70 billion of debt, on Jan. 20. Congressional Republicans opposed including Puerto Rico access to restructuring in the spending bill that passed last year and Ryan promised instead to find a solution early this year. Republicans hold a majority in both chambers.

Puerto Rico faces a $400 million debt payment in May and “a broader set of payments” at the end of June, Lew said. Six congressional hearings have been held and it’s time for lawmakers to act, he said.

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