Sen. Bernard Sanders announced his opposition Monday to the bipartisan Puerto Rico rescue package as too tilted toward banking interests, drawing yet another dividing line between himself and Democratic Party leaders who helped negotiate the deal.
It’s the latest move of the maverick senator who’s testing the limits of how far he can push the Democratic Party. This weekend he announced he would rally support for the primary challenger to Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman.
Mr. Sanders said the Puerto Rico deal would force deep budget cuts on the island territory’s residents, while the banks who loaned to the debt-addled nation would not take a major hit.
Puerto Rico has $70 billion of debt that it’s struggling to service, and has already missed one key payment.
After months of tough negotiations, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and President Obama’s Treasury Department worked out a compromise that would impose a new oversight board to monitor the territorial government’s decisions.
Mr. Sanders, though, said the deal paves the way for more cuts to services in Puerto Rico, while what he called “Wall Street vulture funds” don’t get socked.
“We must stop treating Puerto Rico like a colony and start treating the American citizens of Puerto Rico with the respect and dignity that they deserve during this very difficult period,” the Vermont senator said in a letter to Senate Democrats.
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