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Tue Dec 1, 2015, 11:21 AM

As Puerto Rico Crisis Worsens, Congress In No Rush to Help

(Bloomberg) Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt crisis has already led to four hearings this year in the U.S. Congress, hours of testimony and no consensus over how to help the Caribbean commonwealth. Another hearing Tuesday is unlikely to change that.

As Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla’s administration decides whether to default on $354 million of bond payments coming due, he will appear before a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has power over a bill that would allow some Puerto Rico agencies to file for bankruptcy. That measure has stalled for lack of a single Republican sponsor.

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the committee’s chairman, and fellow Republicans are expected to echo criticism of Puerto Rico expressed at the previous meetings, when lawmakers reprimanded the island’s accounting practices and said any aid would be wasted if it doesn’t contend with its chronic budget shortfalls. Republicans control both houses of Congress.

“Grassley is likely to criticize the current Puerto Rico government for not doing enough in terms of austerity and not producing the audited financial statements,” said Brandon Barford, a partner at Beacon Policy Advisors in Washington and a former Senate aide. “And Grassley is crucial to passing any legislation that would help Puerto Rico.” ................(more)


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