Senate Republicans have introduced a bill to extend several forms of assistance to the island.
The Republicans' measure would include up to $3 billion in cash relief, a payroll tax break for residents of the island and a new independent authority that could borrow for Puerto Rico — but with no taxpayer guarantee.
"Consistent with the views of Congress and the administration that there will be no 'bailout' " of Puerto Rico, said a bill summary, "the full faith and credit of the United States is not pledged for the payment of debt obligations issued by the authority."
Of course, no one is going to buy this debt unless there is an implied US guarantee, otherwise it is just bad Puerto Rican debt.
The bailout steps have begun.
The legislation was introduced by the Republican chairmen of three Senate committees with jurisdiction over Puerto Rico's affairs: Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, whose Finance Committee has jurisdiction over tax policy; Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, whose Judiciary Committee is responsible for bankruptcy law; and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, whose Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has jurisdiction over matters involving America's territories.
Congressional leaders from both parties have been working toward a Jan. 1 deadline, when Puerto Rico owes bond payments of as much as $902 million, according to the Center for a New Economy, a nonpartisan research institute in San Juan.