White House steps up aid for financially ailing Puerto Rico

WASHINGTON – The White House says it’ll 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 Thursday. Other Cabinet secretaries are expected to follow in the months ahead as the administration tries to help Puerto Rico weather its crisis.

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

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

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