Warren ties Puerto Rico fight to energy bill
© Greg Nash

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWeek ahead: Senate panel to vote on Trump's Labor pick Dems question potential Kushner real estate deal with Chinese firm Inspector general reviewing HHS decision to halt ObamaCare ads 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 MurkowskiElle honors 10 at annual 'Women in Washington' event Five takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing ObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote MORE (R-Alaska). Warren's proposal would help temporarily protect Puerto Rico from debt collectors until April 1. 
 
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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 ReidThis obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all Sharron Angle to challenge GOP rep in Nevada Fox's Watters asks Trump whom he would fire: Baldwin, Schumer or Zucker 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 McConnellMitch McConnellThis week: GOP picks up the pieces after healthcare defeat The Memo: Winners and losers from the battle over healthcare GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal 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 RyanPresident's friend: 'Trump still the winner after Ryan plan fails' Report: Ryan pleaded on one knee for ObamaCare repeal vote Republican quits House Freedom Caucus 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. 
 
 
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 GrassleyChuck GrassleyThis week: GOP picks up the pieces after healthcare defeat GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Friends, foes spar in fight on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee 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."