WASHINGTON – Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday introduced a new plan to rescue Puerto Rico from its debt crisis, a revised bill that also has the support of Democrats and the White House.
The bill introduced by the House’s Natural Resources Committee seeks to provide the U.S. commonwealth relief from its $72 billion debt burden, which the island’s government says is unpayable unless it were to stop providing basic public services.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi expressed support for the bill on Thursday and said Democratic lawmakers would support it after several weeks of intense negotiations with the GOP majority.
She said the new bill had “achieved a restructuring process that can work.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, for his part, defended the bill from critics in his own party who have expressed concerns that U.S. taxpayers will have to foot the bill.
Ryan said that under the plan introduced by the Natural Resources Committee not a single dollar in taxes raised by the federal government would be used to resolve Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.
The bill, among other things, would create a federal oversight board to get Puerto Rico’s finances in order and guide the U.S. commonwealth through a debt restructuring.
Earlier this month, Puerto Rico said it would not pay nearly $400 million in Government Development Bank debt that came due on May 2, marking the first massive debt default in the Caribbean island’s history.
An even bigger debt payment of around $2 billion is due on July 1.