TIME Puerto Rico

President Obama Signs Debt Rescue Package for Puerto Rico

They face $70 billion in debt

(WASHINGTON)— President Barack Obama has signed a rescue package for financially strapped Puerto Rico, which is facing more than $70 billion in debt and a major payment due Friday.

Obama signed the bill Thursday, hours after it won final passage in the Senate on Wednesday night.

Obama says the bill isn’t perfect but is an important first step to help the U.S. territory and its 3 1/2 million citizens avoid plunging into an even deeper crisis.

The bipartisan bill crafted after months of work creates an oversight board that will supervise some debt restructuring and negotiate with creditors. It temporarily blocks creditor lawsuits.

Puerto Rico will also be allowed to temporarily lower the federal minimum wage for some younger workers.

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