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House Advances Aid Plan For Debt-Stricken Puerto Rico

The U.S. territory has already defaulted on several payments on its billion-dollar debt burden.

By Matt Picht | May 18, 2016

Puerto Rico is $70 billion in debt and is having serious trouble meeting its payments. Republicans in the House of Representatives think they've finally got a plan to help.

House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop told reporters lawmakers had reached a tentative agreement with the Treasury Department on a plan to restructure Puerto Rico's debt.

This breakthrough could be a win for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who made resolving the debt crisis a top priority at the start of the year. A rep from Ryan's office cautioned the deal was still in its early stages and could take awhile to be finalized.

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The House has been hung up on the fine details of this issue for months. Republicans are leery about supporting a bailout that hurts the island's creditors, while Democrats are equally unwilling to punish Puerto Rico in the restructuring plan.

Republicans have a strong incentive to reach a legislative fix before November; the island's plight has become a Democratic cause célèbre, and both Democratic presidential campaigns have blasted Congress' inaction on the issue.

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