WASHINGTON — America's first treasury secretary says it's time for Congress to help dig Puerto Rico out of its debt crisis. And if it will help make the case, he's even got access to tickets to Broadway's latest mega-hit musical.
Alexander Hamilton — actually Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created the show "Hamilton" and plays him onstage— told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday that lawmakers must pass legislation that would let the U.S. territory restructure its $72 billion debt.
Flanked by lawmakers and facing a roomful of television cameras and congressional aides flashing pictures on their phones, Miranda called his appearance at a news conference "a lot more nerve-racking than a Broadway stage." He admitted to "a healthy cynicism and allergy to politics," but said he had a message to deliver.
"We have a humanitarian crisis on our hands," said Miranda, surrounded by sympathetic Democrats including New York Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, for whom Miranda knocked on doors in an early campaign.
Miranda is a New Yorker whose parents were born in Puerto Rico.
Legislation addressing the problem is bogged down in Congress. Miranda joked that if a "Hamilton" ticket would help, "I know a guy."
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has said his chamber will produce "a responsible solution" to Puerto Rico's debt problems by the end of March. After Tuesday, the House is scheduled to meet just five more days this month.
Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., said she wants Ryan to honor that commitment.
"Otherwise, we're going to disrupt the legislative process in the Congress," she said, referring to budget votes later this year for which Republicans will likely need Democratic support.
On Monday, Miranda and cast-mates performed some of the show's songs at the White House.