Puerto Rico Congressional Negotiations Intensify

The House Committee on Natural Resources is poised to release the newest draft of Puerto Rico legislation amid tense negotiations.

The bill could be debated in committee as early as next week. The bill currently includes both an economic oversight board and debt restructuring tools, but a group of investors are pushing to remove the restructuring language. The "Main Street Bondholders" released a new website calling the bill "an unprecedented suspension of bondholders' legal rights."

"The Puerto Rican people are being asked to accept an affront to their democracy with a control board," stated Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development coalition Jubilee USA. "In addition to stopping the democratic process on the island, now special interest lobbyists are trying to ‎strip debt restructuring powers from this bill."

Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla signed a bill placing a moratorium on debt to prioritize payments for social services. The US territory will likely default on a $422 million May 1 payment. Puerto Rico cut funding for special education, health care and law enforcement to pay its debt. The island's poverty rate is over 40% and nearly three out of every five children live in homes that receive government assistance.

"We want a debt restructuring process that respects the rights of creditors and the citizens of Puerto Rico," said LeCompte, who is in Puerto Rico to meet with elected and religious leaders. "We need a solution that reduces Puerto Rico's staggering child poverty rate."

Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 550 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee USA builds an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world's poorest people. www.jubileeusa.org

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