Bernie Sanders took to the floor of the Senate in opposition of a White House-backed bill to help Puerto Rico through its financial crisis. The bill is being called “colonialism at its worst” by Sanders.
The appearance by Sanders is the first time he has spoken in the Senate since December, following his campaign for presidency.
The Vermont Senator took the floor during a heated eight-minute speech. Sanders also showed solidarity with New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, who starkly opposed the bill with an hours-long speech.
The bill includes an oversight board of seven members. Opposition for the bill comes from a clause, which requires Puerto Rico to pay $370 million in administration costs over a five-year period. “How in God’s name do you run up an administrative cost of $370 million?” asked Sanders.
Republicans have passed the Puerto Rico bill through the House of Representatives. Opposition from both sides of the Senate oppose the bill. President Barack Obama is pushing for the bill to be passed before the July 1 deadline. Puerto Rico is scheduled to make a $1.9 billion payment on the first of the month in an effort to pay off its $70 billion debt.
Sanders asked, “Would my friend from New Jersey agree that this is colonialism at its worst?” to which Menendez replied, “Oh absolutely.”