New York City Mayor Calls for Puerto Rico to Access U.S. Bankruptcy Laws

By Jessica DiNapoliGovernment SpendingReuters

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday joined calls urging the U.S government to allow Puerto Rico's public entities to file for bankruptcy protection.

A bill was introduced last year by Puerto Rico's representative in Congress Pedro Pierluisi to allow the U.S. territory to use federal bankruptcy laws to restructure the debt of its public agencies, but it has not won Republican support. A companion bill was introduced by Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Charles Schumer earlier in July.

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"If we don't do it, Puerto Rico simply can't get back on its feet," de Blasio said at a City Hall press conference. "We're obligated because we as Americans believe we're supposed to help our fellow Americans in times of trouble."

Similar events were held on Tuesday in Washington, D.C., and Orlando, Florida, home to another large Puerto Rican population.

More Puerto Ricans live in New York City than any place other than the U.S. territory itself, said de Blasio, who also gave a short address in Spanish.

Puerto Rico is looking to restructure $72 billion in debt.

On Monday, Puerto Rico's Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla was in Washington, D.C., to plead the island's case.

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is Puerto Rican, called for the federal government to invest in the island and eliminate policies that put it at an economic disadvantage.

"Austerity is not the solution," she said. "The solution to this crisis cannot be at the expense of the working class and the most vulnerable." (Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli; Editing by Toni Reinhold)