Congressional action urged on Puerto Rico’s $70B debt crisis |

Congressional action urged on Puerto Rico’s $70B debt crisis

NEW YORK — Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Tuesday said Puerto Rico’s financial crisis risks turning the commonwealth into a chaotic mess unless Congress can enact a plan to restructure its debt.

“The challenge is for Congress to act fast enough so that the unfolding crisis in Puerto Rico doesn’t cascade out of control,” Lew said during an on-stage interview at the annual Milken Institute conference in Los Angeles.

The island faces $70 billion in debt overall, a staggering 45 percent poverty rate and a shrinking population. It owes $1.9 billion more on July 1 that Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla says it cannot pay.

On Monday, the Government Development Bank defaulted on a $422 million debt payment while it agreed to a tentative restructuring framework with some large creditors who promised to hold back from taking legal action for 30 days.

Legislation to help Puerto Rico deal with its $72 billion debt crisis “is being finalized” by a Congress committee following negotiations with the Treasury Department, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office said.

The House Natural Resources Committee has been struggling to write a bill restructuring Puerto Rico’s debt.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.