Dem senator urges support for House Puerto Rico bill
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Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade Lobbying world Bottom Line MORE (D-Fla.) is pushing his colleagues to back a House-passed Puerto Rico debt-relief bill ahead of a looming July 1 deadline. 

"This legislation that the House has crafted is certainly not the bill that I would have crafted, but it's the only bill that we have before us that could get by the Tea Party element in the House," Nelson said from the Senate floor Monday. "We're out of time. We need to act, and this bill is the only bill moving." 


Nelson's comments are a marked shift after weeks of silence from Senate Democrats, who have largely refused to publicly support the House bill and argued it needs to be changed. 

But lawmakers have a matter of days to pass the legislation before the island territory defaults on a roughly $2 billion debt payment on Friday. 

If senators make any changes to the House bill, the legislation will require another vote in the lower chamber, guaranteeing it doesn't get to President Obama's desk until after the deadline. 

Nelson said while his colleagues will make "well-meaning and heartfelt" criticisms of the legislation it "is needed to get Puerto Rico out of this immediate crisis."  

"If someone is holding you up at gunpoint and said your wallet or your life, you're going to hand him your wallet because the alternative is worse," he added. 

Despite the deadline, a vote on the Puerto Rico legislation hasn't been teed up, and leadership will need the agreement of every senator if they want to speed over procedural hurdles.  

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynBolton sparks internal GOP fight over witnesses Trump legal team begins second day of arguments under Bolton furor Trump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president MORE (R-Texas) told reporters that he expects the bill to come up midweek and that he will support it. 

"I think so, but we're still talking to some," he said, asked if a majority of Republicans will support it. "If we don't pass this Puerto Rico bill and July 1 hits and there's a major default then there's going to be a demand that we use taxpayer dollars to bail out Puerto Rico." 

Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum The Trumpification of the federal courts Trump to rally evangelicals after critical Christianity Today editorial MORE (D-Nev.) downplayed suggestions last week that Democrats would try to delay the Puerto Rico bill. But, he said, they will push for amendment votes.

One change that he said Democrats will push for is tied to the federal oversight board created by the House legislation. Democrats argue the board, with members selected by the president and Congress, cuts Puerto Ricans out of deciding the direction of the territory.