Warren ties Puerto Rico fight to energy bill
© Greg Nash

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenCordray's legacy of consumer protection worth defending Booker tries to find the right lane  Jones raised 0K a day after first Moore accusers came forward: report MORE is tying a long-brewing battle over the Puerto Rico financial crisis to an energy bill currently before the Senate. 

The Massachusetts Democrat is offering an amendment to a wide-ranging energy reform bill from Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate bill would cut EPA funding by 0M GOP senator: ObamaCare fix could be in funding bill Collins: Pass bipartisan ObamaCare bills before mandate repeal MORE (R-Alaska). Warren's proposal would help temporarily protect Puerto Rico from debt collectors until April 1. 
 
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Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandDem: Ex-lawmaker tried to pin me to elevator door and kiss me In Washington and Hollywood, principle is sad matter of timing Mika Brzezinski: Bill Clinton needs to apologize or stop talking MORE (N.Y.) Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate ethics panel resumes Menendez probe after judge declares mistrial Judge declares mistrial in Menendez bribery case Menendez jury deadlocked, ordered to keep trying MORE (N.J.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyCongress must end American support for Saudi war in Yemen Jones raised 0K a day after first Moore accusers came forward: report Senate Democrats introduce bill to block Trump's refugee ban MORE (Conn.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonReport: FCC chair to push for complete repeal of net neutrality Collins: Pass bipartisan ObamaCare bills before mandate repeal Democrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  MORE (Fla.) and Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJuan Williams: The politics of impeachment Texas Republicans slam White House over disaster relief request Dem rep: Trump disaster aid request is 'how you let America down again' MORE (N.Y.) are backing Warren's amendment. 
 
The senators argue that "a temporary stay on litigation is essential to facilitate an orderly process for stabalizing, evaluating, and comprehensively resolving" Puerto Rico's crisis.
 
A vote on the amendment hasn't been scheduled, but trying to link the two issues would place a deeply partisan fight into an otherwise uncontroversial energy bill.
 
Warren, Blumenthal, Schumer and Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidVirginia was a wave election, but without real change, the tide will turn again Top Lobbyists 2017: Grass roots Boehner confronted Reid after criticism from Senate floor MORE (D-Nev.) introduced similar legislation last month, suggesting the temporary stay on creditor lawsuits would give Congress enough time to pass "comprehensive relief" for Puerto Rico. 
 
Warren's latest move comes after every Senate Democrat united earlier this week to push Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock McConnell PAC demands Moore return its money Klobuchar taking over Franken's sexual assault bill MORE (R-Ky.) to bring up legislation that would allow Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy. 
 
"If Congress doesn't act and give Puerto Rico the chance to restructure its debt, schools will shutter, utilities will be switched off, the sputtering economy will grind to a halt. It will be a nightmare, a nightmare," Schumer told reporters Wednesday.
 
Puerto Rican officials have been pushing lawmakers for months to take up legislation, with Democrats arguing that Congress accidentally withheld bankruptcy power from territories when it rewrote part of the U.S. code. 
 
While Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDem: Ex-lawmaker tried to pin me to elevator door and kiss me Two months later: Puerto Rico doesn’t have power, education or economy running again On Capitol Hill, few name names on sexual harassment MORE (R-Wis.) pledged that House lawmakers would work to come up with a solution by the end of March, how to solve Puerto Rico's financial crisis has divided senators. 
 
A push by Schumer to pass legislation that gave Puerto Rico access to bankruptcy courts was blocked late last year by Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchProminent conservative passes on Utah Senate bid Republicans offer this impossible choice: Tax cuts or senior care Senate GOP running out of options to stop Moore MORE (R-Utah), who chairs the Finance Committee.
 
While both sides pledged to work together, Hatch suggested this week that huge policy and political gaps remain. 
 
"I haven't heard much from the other side, but I'm prepared to work on it," he told reporters. 
 
Hatch added that Democrats have focused on allowing Puerto Rico access to bankruptcy courts—a move he doesn't support. 
 
Hatch, as well as Murkowski and Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyFBI informant gathered years of evidence on Russian push for US nuclear fuel deals, including Uranium One, memos show Klobuchar taking over Franken's sexual assault bill Lawyer: Kushner is 'the hero' in campaign emails regarding Russia MORE (R-Iowa), have introduced alternative legislation. While it doesn't allow Puerto Rico to have access to bankruptcy courts, it would give the island territory up to $3 billion in federal assistance. 
 
McConnell, who hasn't signed onto the GOP legislation, suggested that while lawmakers were broadly concerned about the Puerto Rico fiscal crisis, what Congress should do about it is unclear. 
 
"We have a lot of discussion about what to do and as long as it doesn't involve the use of federal tax dollars, I think it is something we ought to try to figure out some way forward on," he told reporters on Wednesday. "Exactly what the way forward is at this point, I'm not sure."