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Treasury Secretary Says Delay On Puerto Rico Bill Could ‘Be Sign Of Progress’

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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Congress’ delay in releasing a reworked version of its bill dealing with the Puerto Rico debt crisis does not signal progress isn’t being made, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said at the Christian Science Monitor media breakfast Friday.

Lew, who recently visited the territory that faces a $70 billion debt burden, said the agency has been working closely with members to work out the technicalities of the legislation. The bill is designed to allow the island to restructure its debt without providing a bailout.

“I think there is progress being made, I think that the discussions continue to go forward – you have Democrats and Republicans in Congress trying to reach agreement, but you have a lot of forces in the process that make it challenging,” he said.

Individual interests have come in to play and to have a viable solution, the focus has to remain on interest of the public, according to Lew. The island recently defaulted on a major debt payment and has a $2 billion interest payment due in early July.

“Our team has provided an enormous amount of technical input and the leaders particularly in the House on both sides are engaged, I do believe its a good faith conversation I do believe there is an understanding there is a crisis in Puerto Rico and I hope that is success full – what I know is the only way to solve this problem is for congress to act so the time is now and the stakes are quite high.”

The House Committee on Natural Resources postponed a markup on a bill in April following concerns on both sides of the aisle and delayed legislation again this week.

“I wouldn’t confuse delaying a day with a lack of progress; sometimes a delay can be a sign of progress if you’re getting close to something,” Lew said.

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