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Tue Apr 26, 2016, 12:33 PM

House Republican leader sees Puerto Rico bill before July

Source: Reuters

Politics | Tue Apr 26, 2016 1:28pm EDT

House Republican leader sees Puerto Rico bill before July

WASHINGTON | BY DAVID MORGAN

House of Representatives Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said on Tuesday he is "hopeful" lawmakers can move legislation on Puerto Rico out of the House before the U.S. territory must make a $1.55 billion debt payment in July.

But lawmakers will not be able to address the island's fiscal crisis before May 1, when Puerto Rico is due to make a smaller $422 million payment that Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla says it cannot meet, said the California Republican, who is second only to Speaker Paul Ryan in the legislative chamber.

Puerto Rico faces $70 billion in total debt, a 45 percent poverty rate and a shrinking population, all of which threaten to cause its economy to collapse.

"The May date, I don't see how we can get it done," McCarthy told reporters.

Congressional efforts to craft legislation to address the crisis have hit a series of roadblocks that McCarthy said he believes lawmakers could surmount before July 1, when Puerto Rico is scheduled to make the $1.55 billion debt payment.

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Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-puertorico-house-idUSKCN0XN249

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