Washington DC- The Natural Resources Committee of the House of Representatives today overcame Republican objections and approved (25-20) the bill that pursues a federal referendum between state, independence and free association in Puerto Rico in 2023.
In a sign that some liberals are dissatisfied with the measure, two Democrats on the committee voted against it, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who represents the Puerto Rican neighborhood of Chicago (Illinois), and Rashida Tlaib (Michigan). And the only Republican vote in favor of the bill on the committee was Washington’s Resident Commissioner, Jennifer Gonzalez.
Although the debate on the position is not on the agenda of the United States Senate – where its leadership has refused to pursue a measure in state favor for the island – the Democratic majority leader, Steny Hoyer (Maryland), intended to bring the measure. is, with the number 8393, up for voting in the plenary session of the House of Representatives next weekend.
“That’s the goal” Confirmed new day The chairman of the committee, Democrat Raul Grijalva (Arizona), after today’s session, regarding a possible vote next week in the plenary chamber. Some time ago Hoyer also repeated the morning new day His interest in getting it approved by the full chamber before the August holiday, which begins Friday, July 29.
Shortly before the final vote, Republican Senator Roger Wicker (Mississippi) introduced a bill in the Senate that would introduce independence, free association and sovereignty in the state, as well as proposing a “Free Associated State” as a fourth-place alternative. Uses 8393 as a model for.
“The people of Puerto Rico have a rich and distinctive heritage, and they deserve a fair vote for their political future that does not offer the wrong choice between statehood or independence,” Vickers said in announcing the bill. , which will include regional status as an option. ,
Vickers said that despite claims to the contrary from colleagues, “they have not adequately considered the fact that many Puerto Ricans do not want to change their position.”
Senator Vickers, who has been an ally of Popular Democratic Party (PDP) leaders, is also a co-sponsor of his colleague Robert Menendez’s Bill 865 (New Jersey), which seeks to link Congress to a status convention and a referendum on options. proposes. ,
However, the first Republican amendment that was defeated in committee (27–15)—which has 26 Democrats and 21 Republicans—was an initiative by Republican Tom McClintock (California) to include regional status in the chamber bill. In addition to Commissioner Gonzalez, his colleagues Pete Stauber (Minnesota), Jerry Karl (Alabama) and Blake Moore (Utah) voted with Democrats to abandon the Regional Status Amendment.
Those four Republicans helped defeat another proposal (28–14) by McClintock to include a “none of the above” option in the House bill.
At the time of its approval, 12 Democrats — including lead author Grijalva — and five Republicans, including Commissioner Gonzalez, co-sponsored the House legislation.
According to sources, Democrats may need about a dozen Republicans to gain approval in the full House.
Congressman García indicated that although he sees the law as a “first step”, he voted against it because there had been no public hearing on the measure, and he was dissatisfied with the definitions, particularly the issue of US citizenship under free association. Nothing will be said about Puerto Rico’s international sports representation under the state, or about the financial impact and public debt of the island.
“Puerto Ricans deserve a formal and accessible legislative hearing on a bill of such importance in which members and stakeholders of the Puerto Rican community have the opportunity to contribute their perspectives to the debate,” García said. Grijalva said that his colleague García opposed the project known to him.
Before approving the law, the Democratic leadership also defeated the Republican amendments, asking, among other things, to enforce the measure until the purposes of the promised legislation were met or the entire public debt was paid. With the aim of seeking a supremacy, the adoption of English as the official language of the United States and government functions.
McClintock also emphasized the need for a two-thirds vote to recognize the winning formula – under the argument that it is up to Congress to make the final decision on state formation – and to make English the official language of the United States. and the government of Puerto Rico, including its offices, courts and public education for operations.
Meanwhile, the committee’s minority leader, Bruce Westerman (Arkansas), proposed that if the bill becomes law, the legitimacy of the law would be crippled until the purposes of the Promesa law are met. But, that potential revision lost 25-18.
His colleague Laura Boebert (Colorado) advocated the abolition of the clause that would allow an educational campaign on a federal government-funded referendum.
Other amendments made by Republican Jody Heiss (Georgia) sought to withhold the state until Puerto Rico had paid off all of its public debt, with Hiss also proposing that the United States close its military bases. Be able to maintain and avoid China’s influence on the public debt service under a sovereign Puerto Rico. ,
Democrats, led by Grijalva, Nidia Velázquez and Darren Soto, and Commissioner González, all opposed the Republican amendments. Some Republicans even voted against some of their allies’ amendments.
“We have to deal with the legacy of colonialism here”Grijalva indicated, opening the session, and underlining that for this reason he wanted to give Puerto Rican voters the opportunity to choose between statehood, independence and free association. “Maybe my preference in the referendum will not prevail,” he said, without explaining what it is.
Steny Hoyer (Maryland), the Democratic majority leader in the lower house, attended the start of the session to reaffirm his support for the legislation and indicated that Governor Pedro Pierlusi reiterated his support for it on Wednesday. Leaving the hearing, Hoyer reaffirmed new day That depending on what happens in the committee, he will try to put the law on the calendar for next week’s plenary session.
Republican Westman reiterated his criticism of the bill, saying that Congress’s focus should be on the power grid, its financial condition and infrastructure, and that the goals of the Promise Act must be met before a change in political status is allowed.
Westerman also stressed they wanted to process the law on the fast track, without a public hearing on the text of a measure presented last Friday, after talks behind closed doors.
His colleague Jay Obernolte (California) said he supports statehood, but the fast-track law opposes it.
Also Republican Garrett Graves (Louisiana), after praising Commissioner Gonzalez’s commitment to the state, said he would not vote in favor of the measure and specified that an overwhelming majority of members were excluded from talks on the new bill.
“The issues that have been raised” – highlighting prosecutors, citizenship and immigration – are “too important to act without due deliberation,” Westerman said.
Republican Matt Rosendale (Montana) argued that Puerto Rico, a US state, would have more representation than Montana and that “the people of Montana are not going to support it.”
With no support for the law among his fellow Republicans, Commissioner Gonzalez supported the bill with a Democratic majority.
After facing criticism for the crowd, he said that this is an issue that has been discussed in the committee over the years and that the project 8393 stems from the last nine months’ discussion on the law 1522 You 2070 which were brought to the public hearing.
“Can someone tell me how long we had the independence hearing?Westman asked. Meanwhile, McClintock confirmed that the law would allow the full merger of Puerto Rico as a state, a year after a majority vote for that option, despite being “bankrupt and poorly managed”.
Westerman, McClintock and Rosendale primarily defended the amendments to add field options and none of the previous ones, and indicated support for the current position between the presidents of the Senate and Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives. .
“The decision that the people of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico must make is repealed,” McClintock said, questioning whether the law’s authors exclude the current territorial situation.
Grijalva pointed out that the inclusion of “none of the above” would mean thinking that “there is a mysterious non-territorial alternative”, other than statehood, independence and free association.
Velázquez said, for his part, that McClintock’s amendment would damage the law and make it a “joke.” “You’re right, I supported the Commonwealth,” he told McClintock, but maintained that United States Supreme Court rulings demonstrated that “Puerto Rico has no power”, and that its Sovereignty is controlled by Congress.
Commissioner Gonzalez opposing the inclusion of territorial status He said the federal executive had ruled out the possibility of creating something different through “better ELA” status.
,The Territorial Commonwealth is the main reason why Puerto Rico still faces social, financial and economic challenges,” said González, who told a news conference in his office that Republicans themselves recognized that the Senate president and lower House Island promoted some amendments.
Regarding English as the official language, McClintock stated that “statehood is incompatible with separatism” and that federal law already requires that a person holding the position of Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico in Washington Have command of English.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Gonzalez stated that the United States does not have an official language and that the Constitution prohibits Congress from imposing a language on a state, although he noted that the Puerto Rican government intended to improve the teaching of English.
Democrat Teresa Fernandez Leger (New Mexico) said her state was not denied statehood “because of our ability to handle more than one language”.
“It is our duty to offer a democratic and transparent process,” said Congresswoman Velázquez during a fight for the amendment by Republican Boebert, who criticized the fact that a report is not available from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). About the fiscal impact of this law on the federal government.
Velázquez – who insisted that the law promotes free association as a free option for the first time – confirmed that the measure’s actual economic count is 124 years of colonialism, which benefited the United States.
The legislation was originally presented last Friday with co-sponsorship from Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Maryland), Puerto Rican Democrats Nidia Velázquez (New York) and Darren Soto (Florida), and Commissioner González. On Monday, the legislation was co-sponsored by Democratic Congressmen Katie Porter (California), Betty McCollum (Minnesota) and Reuben Gallego (Arizona), Democratic Representative of Guam, Michael San Nicolas and Republican Congressman Maria Elvira Salazar (Florida). went.
Democrats Teresa Fernandez Leger (New Mexico), Lori Trahan (Massachusetts) and Paul Tonko (New York), and Republicans Fred Upton (Michigan), John Katko (New York) and Don Bacon (Nebraska) joined Tuesday.