Puerto Rico continues to be in an economic crisis, and a central part of that crisis is the $72 billion in debt the territory has racked up. Unlike the States, Puerto Rico cannot allow its municipalities (entities like cities and public utilities) to restructure their debts through bankruptcy.
HR 870, a bill which would all Puerto Rico to be treated just like the States when it comes to chapter 9 bankruptcy, is still being considered in a committee in the House of Representatives, and an identical bill (S 1774) is being considered in the Senate.
Without the possibility of chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, Puerto Rico must deal with all its creditors separately, trying to negotiate some kind of solution without an orderly process. The Island’s government has already defaulted on some parts of the debt, and the governor has come out with a plan for debt settlement which counts on help from Washington and creditors who are willing to wait for years before receiving any more payments.
Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection would give Puerto Rico a chance to handle the financial problems in a more orderly way. Puerto Rico can have this protection by becoming a state, but that cannot happen soon enough to solve the immediate problems, so HR 870 is a necessary step.
Which presidential candidates favor bankruptcy protection for Puerto Rico?
- Clinton: Yes. “Puerto Rico deserves a fair shot.”
- Chafee: Unknown.
- O’Malley: Yes. “We can’t let Puerto Rico fail.”
- Sanders: Yes. “I strongly believe Puerto Rico should be afforded the same bankruptcy protections that exist for municipalities across the United States.”
- Webb: Unknown.
- Bush: Yes. “Puerto Rico should be given the same rights as the states.”
- Carson: Unknown.
- Christie: Unknown.
- Cruz: Unknown.
- Fiorina: Unknown.
- Gilmore: Unknown.
- Graham: No. “I’m very reluctant to go down this road of bankruptcy because I don’t know where it ends.”
- Huckabee: No. “Don’t make decisions you can’t afford.”
- Jindal: No. “I oppose this.”
- Kasich: Unknown.
- Pataki: Unknown.
- Paul: Unknown.
- Rubio: No. Chapter 9 is not “a silver bullet solution […] should only be a measure of last resort considered if Puerto Rico takes significant steps to fix its budget and economic mess.”
- Santorum: Unknown.
- Trump: Unknown.
- Walker: Unknown.
The majority position, obviously, is “unknown.” A candidate who fails to take a position on an issue this important may not be ready for the office.
Contact your legislators, and let them know that you care about this issue.