White House steps up aid for financially ailing Puerto Rico

Friday, February 19, 2016, Vol. 40, No. 8

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says it will step up support for financially ailing Puerto Rico by speeding access to almost $400 million for roads and other public works projects — hoping to spur economic development.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is visiting the island on Thursday. Other Cabinet secretaries are expected to follow in the months ahead as the Obama administration.

The White House says Foxx will sign an agreement that leads to more technical assistance from Washington and more immediate access to money to keep road projects on schedule.

But the White House also says Congress needs to give Puerto Rico the ability to seek bankruptcy protection under a framework reserved exclusively for U.S. territories.

Puerto Rico has $72 billion in public debt that the governor has said is unpayable.