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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Why did Marco Rubio back away from bill to help Puerto Rico?



Sen. Marco Rubio considered co-sponsoring a bill to help Puerto Rico out of its financial hole but then backed away as opponents — including powerful hedge fund directors and tea party groups — mobilized.

“We delayed the actual formal introduction of the bill while we were waiting for a final answer from Senator Rubio, and at some point, we said: ‘We need to go. Does he want to be a part of it, or does he want us to go ahead without him?’” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told the New York Times. “The answer we got was, go ahead without him. We never learned why.”

The Times story explored the efforts for and against the legislation to provide bankruptcy protection to Puerto Rico. Financial interests in the U.S. that provided $3 billion in backing stood to lose on their investment.

Puerto Ricans are a growing force in Florida and the issue puts Rubio on the opposite side of Jeb Bush, who supports allowing Puerto Rico to restructure under federal bankruptcy law. Hillary Clinton does, too.

Rubio argued against Chapter 9 reorganization in September, saying it should be a “should only be a measure of last resort considered if Puerto Rico takes significant steps to fix its budget and economic mess.”

Reached Sunday, Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos said he did not have comment beyond what appeared in the New York Times story. It suggested a link between Rubio’s moves and bondholders, “some of whom have supported his presidential campaign.” One fundraiser

“Given Marco’s interest in Puerto Rico issues, our office did the due diligence of reviewing the bankruptcy bill, as well as other possible solutions, and meeting with stakeholders," Rubio’s office statement read. "Marco ultimately decided not to support it, because he believes Puerto Rico’s leaders should first pursue other fiscal reforms with Chapter 9 being a last resort."

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2015 12:52pm]


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