Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanObamaCare gets new lease on life Ellison to Dems: Don't gloat, get ready for round 2 Trump blames Democrats for ObamaCare defeat MORE (R-Wis.) is giving lawmakers three months to come up with a fix to Puerto Rico’s fiscal woes.
Ryan said in a statement Wednesday that he was directing the relevant House committees to craft a “responsible solution” to the island territory’s budget troubles by the end of the first quarter of 2016. Despite a push from Democrats, language addressing Puerto Rico’s issues was not included in the omnibus funding package.
“Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis is a problem that is not going away anytime soon,” he said in a statement. “While we could not agree to including precedent-setting changes to bankruptcy law in this omnibus spending bill, I understand that many members on both sides of the aisle remain committed to addressing the challenges facing the territory.”
Grappling with a long-struggling economy and a massive amount of debt, Puerto Rican officials have said the island will be unable to pay back all the money it owes to creditors. At the same time, they have pushed Congress to pass a law that would give Puerto Rico the same bankruptcy powers that states have.
Island officials have said they are in imminent danger of failing to make legally required debt payments and have only stayed afloat through unsustainable financial maneuvering.
While congressional Democrats have backed bankruptcy proposal has, Republicans have resisted the idea for months. They argue Puerto Rico’s troubles are the result of years of fiscal mismanagement and have questioned allowing the territory to alter the terms of legally entered contracts.
At the same time, several financial firms invested in Puerto Rican debt have also been aggressive in pushing back against the idea.
Democrats were hoping to include Puerto Rican relief in the omnibus spending bill, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) identified it as a flaw in the just unveiled package.
“We’re concerned about the ignoring of the urgency of the situation in Puerto Rico, where American citizens are, really, in a situation that we must address,” she told reporters. “It won’t cost the American people one thin dime to enable, to allow Puerto Rico to restructure their debt and declare bankruptcy — not one thin dime to the American people.”
Senate Republicans unveiled their plan to aid Puerto Rico earlier this month. It does not include bankruptcy protection but makes available up to $3 billion in federal assistance, alongside extensive outside review of the island’s finances.