REFILE-Sanders rejects deal on Puerto Rico, offers alternative
(Refiles to add dropped letter in "Representatives," paragraph 1)
WASHINGTON May 23 (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday rejected a bipartisan deal reached in the House of Representatives on legislation to address Puerto Rico's debt crisis, calling it a concession to Wall Street.
Breaking with the Obama administration, Sanders called on Senate colleagues to instead back an alternative he has proposed to allow the U.S. territory the same access to restructure its debt in bankruptcy court that is afforded to municipalities.
Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives last week unveiled a bill, hammered out in talks between lawmakers from both parties, that included a framework for restructuring Puerto Rico's $70 billion in debt and putting the island's financial operations under the control of a federal oversight board.
A House vote is expected in the first week of June, ahead of a $1.9 billion debt payment due on July 1, but any legislation would have to clear the Senate as well.
Democratic congressional leaders have acknowledged disagreements with some parts of the bill but said negotiations had led to a workable compromise, and the Obama administration has urged Congress to quickly pass it.
"It is critical that Congress pass this as there are very significant bond payments due in July," U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said last week. "Time is of the essence."
Sanders' rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, has also backed the legislation.
But Sanders, who represents Vermont as an independent but who caucuses with Democrats, said Wall Street would benefit at the expense of Puerto Rico's workers. Continuación...