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House Committee hearings on Puerto Rico crisis and Conservative House Caucus Rejects Puerto Rico Debt Restructuring

Sharon Edmondson, Washington Legislative Team Member | February 26, 2016

The House Natural Resources Committee is finished with oversight hearings on Puerto Rico's debt crisis and will come up with a bill soon.

Treasury's point man on Puerto Rico's debt, Antonio Weiss, told the panel Thursday that any fiscal oversight authority should leave tax and spending decisions to the government of Puerto Rico.

Rep. Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the committee, said he was not leaning towards a control board that would make fiscal decisions and have budgetary authority immediately, but something that could step in to make those decisions if it believes the island government will not meet "certain benchmarks" towards fiscal health. Bishop also praised Treasury's shift away from requesting Congress to authorize the island to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Treasury reportedly wants Puerto Rican pensioners to get payments ahead of investors in the island's $73 billion in bond debt. That could well be rejected by Congress.

Chairman Bill Flores (R-TX) of the Republican Study Committee, a conservative caucus that counts most House Republicans amongst its membership, said the RSC will oppose any legislation that would extend Chapter 9 bankruptcy to Puerto Rico. RSC’s communications director said the committee is stating their position for the future rather than opposing any legislation that has not been introduced by the House Natural Resources Committee.

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