House Majority Leader Says Puerto Rico Bill Should Be Passed By July 1

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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The likelihood of a Puerto Rico debt bill passing Congress before the May 1 deadline is looking grimmer by the minute.

House Majority Leader [crscore]Kevin McCarthy[/crscore] told reporters Tuesday he is “hopeful” legislation will make it through the lower chamber by July – the date the commonwealth is scheduled to make a debt payment of roughly $2 billion.

The island, which faces a $70 billion debt burden it says it’s unable to pay, is expected to default on the $422 million May 1 payment.

While draft legislation was introduced in March aimed at dealing with the crisis, the House Committee on Natural Resources postponed its markup following pushback from both sides of the political spectrum.

House Speaker [crscore]Paul Ryan[/crscore] made it clear during his weekly press conference last Thursday GOP lawmakers are focused on getting it right by making sure taxpayers aren’t on the hook for the bill.

According to Ryan, the committee has been working with the Department of the Treasury on the technical aspects of restructuring.

During an interview with Univision Tuesday, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew said the bill isn’t where it needs to be in its current form.

“There are ongoing discussions with particularly in the House of Representatives on legislation. It’s not finished. It’s not yet in a form that works, but we have seen the Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan the chairman of their Committee that has jurisdiction over Puerto Rico,” he said. “Chairman Bishop has put forth a set of ideas, worked with Democrats in the house, and worked with the administration and outside parties to try and fashion an approach that works. It’s hard because there are competing views. I think that what’s critical is that the House has to finish the work.”

The date for the rescheduled mark-up had not yet been announced.

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