Bishop eyes new Puerto Rico bill after recess

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) is aiming to unveil a reworked bill to address the Puerto Rican debt crisis shortly after lawmakers return from a weeklong recess.

Bishop told reporters Friday he wants to produce the bill after the recess so that members have a chance to examine it before it receives consideration. The first version of the bill stalled earlier this month when Bishop’s panel had to quickly cancel a markup of the legislation due to a lack of support.

{mosads}“We’ll probably redraft the bill and drop another one,” he said. “We can’t drop it until we come back.

“I tried doing it over the break before, and I found out no one was reading it over the break, so we’re going to wait until we get back,” he added.

Bishop was optimistic about the legislation, predicting the bill could pass his committee.

“We’re going to carry it. We’ll carry it with a majority of Republican votes,” he said. “The number of Republicans opposed to it on my committee is highly overstated.”

But at the same time, Bishop maintained that the overall goal is not to produce a partisan bill, which would endanger its chances of ever becoming law.

“Everyone’s going to have to swallow a little bit to come up with a good bill,” he said. “We’re going to go through the right process.”

Congress is searching for legislation to help Puerto Rico deal with its $72 billion of debt. The basic framework of the bill would establish an outside board to oversee the U.S. territory’s finances and give it the power to seek a debt restructuring through court.

Bishop said those pieces are more or less locked in place, with remaining negotiations between the two parties and the Treasury Department, focused on minor issues.

“People are arguing over some of the small pieces, which oftentimes can be the most difficult to do because they can be very technical,” he said.

But beyond crafting a bill that can earn House passage, there are still hurdles to clear in the Senate and White House. Bishop said Democrats were likely holding off on supporting the bill until the Treasury signed off on the legislation. And as for the Senate, Bishop said he had discussed the bill with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the head of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Tags Lisa Murkowski Puerto Rico Rob Bishop
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