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Mark-Viverito Slams Rubio, GOP For Not Helping Puerto Rico

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito on Tuesday criticized Republicans for not helping debt-crippled Puerto Rico.

Mark-Viverito, who herself was born in Puerto Rico, said Tuesday that ``it won't be forgotten'' that Republicans in Congress opposed aid to the U.S. territory when passing last week's catch-all spending bill.

The speaker, one of the nation's leading Puerto Rican politicians, singled out U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) He previously supported a bailout before opposing it.

Mark-Viverito claimed that was ``an egregious flip-flop'' and said she and other Latino activists would rally Florida's 1 million Puerto Ricans on this issue in 2016.

Rubio did not immediately return a request for comment. Many Republicans believe a bailout should be a last resort.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) ordered lawmakers to come up with a solution by March.

Earlie this month, Mark-Viverito had been urging Congress to pass a spending bill allowing for Puetro Rico to restructure its debt – along with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), state Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-The Bronx).

But a spending bill without any such provisions was later issued.

Territorial bankruptcy protection laws would have helped the territory restructure their debt in a way that would also help stimulate economic growth, the politicians said in a statement Sunday.

Republicans have opposed allowing Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy as a way to help mitigate their $72 billion government debt.

The unincorporated U.S. territory is struggling to make payments.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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