Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchHow the White House got rolled on the Saudi-9/11 bill Overnight Finance: Lawmakers float criminal charges for Wells Fargo chief | Scrutiny on Trump's Cuba dealings | Ryan warns of recession if no tax reform Overnight Healthcare: Watchdog says ObamaCare program made illegal payments MORE (R-Utah) on Wednesday blocked a Democratic push to pass a Puerto Rico bankruptcy bill.
GOP blocks Puerto Rico bankruptcy bill
Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerElection-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Democrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal 78 lawmakers vote to sustain Obama veto MORE (D-N.Y.) had sought unanimous consent to pass his legislation, which would give the U.S. territory access to bankruptcy courts allowing it to restructure its debt.
Schumer, who stressed that his proposal isn't a "bailout," warned that the island's financial crisis will worsen without action from Congress.
"If we fail to offer Puerto Rico assistance now, the problem will not be contained to the island," he said. "We have the tools to fix the problem. They're sitting in the toolbox. The problem is Puerto Rico isn't allowed to use them."
But Hatch suggested that lawmakers were concerned that Schumer's legislation, which he introduced with Sen. Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalOvernight Tech: FCC chief downplays delay to TV box reforms | Lawsuit filed over internet transition | Waze rolls out ridehailing service Anti-trade senators say chamber would be crazy to pass TPP Leahy wants Judiciary hearing on Yahoo MORE (D-Conn.), wasn't an efficient way to tackle the territory's crippling debt.
"I don't know of anyone in this chamber who is indifferent to the issues facing our fellow American citizens in Puerto Rico," he said. "I agree with the senior senator from New York that Congress must act to address these problems."
Hatch, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said lawmakers would introduce alternative legislation as early as Wednesday.
Despite Hatch's objection, Democrats suggested they were grateful that the Utah Republican was willing to work on legislation to address Puerto Rico's debt crisis.
But Sen. Bob MenendezRobert MenendezDemocrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal Dem senator: Louisiana Republican 'found Jesus' on flood funding Taiwan and ICAO: this is the time MORE (D-N.J.) said he was "disappointed" that bankruptcy legislation "to help Puerto Rico address its challenges in an orderly and legal way seems to be in a vortex in which we can't get it out."