NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito criticized Congress Wednesday for not supplying any debt relief for struggling Puerto Rico.
Mark-Viverito, who is one of the nation’s leading Puerto Rican elected officials, said Wednesday that the lack of action by Congress was “very disappointing.”
She said she feared that basic services on the island would be reduced as it battles to pay down its debt.
Mark-Viverito, who was born in Puerto Rico, grew emotional at City Hall when she called it a “humanitarian crisis.”
On Sunday, Mark-Viverito had been urging Congress to pass a spending bill allowing for Puetro Rico to restructure its debt – along with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), state Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-The Bronx).
But a spending bill without any such provisions was issued on Wednesday.
Territorial bankruptcy protection laws would have helped the territory restructure their debt in a way that would also help stimulate economic growth, the politicians said in a statement Sunday.
Republicans have opposed allowing Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy as a way to help mitigate their $72 billion government debt.
The unincorporated U.S. territory is struggling to make payments on $72 billion of debt.
The island may default on January 1 of next year if it can’t make a payment of more than $900 million. It only narrowly managed to make a $350 million payment on Dec. 1.
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