Washington DC- The Natural Resources Committee today overcame Republican objections and approved a bill pursuing a federal referendum in Puerto Rico in 2023 between state, independence and free association (25-20).
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 commission was from the resident commissioner in Washington, Jennifer Gonzalez.
While it is not on the agenda for the Senate, where its leadership has refused to advance a measure in state favor for the island, Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Maryland) intends to vote on the measure next week. In the plenary session of the House of Representatives.
“That’s the goal” said committee chairman, Democrat Raul Grijalva (Arizona), after the vote. Not long ago, Hoyer also reiterated his interest in getting El Nuevo Día to be 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 also proposes a “Free Associated State” as a fourth-rate option.
The legislation came to committee with the support of 12 Democrats, including lead author Grijalva and five Republicans including Commissioner Gonzalez.
Prior to approving the law, the Democratic leadership defeated Republican amendments aimed, among other things, to avoid the measure’s legitimacy, which included territorial status as an alternative, a supremacy requirement, as the official language of the United States. Including the adoption of English. Government operations.
Among the amendments defeated were amendments by Republican Tom McClintock (California), who proposed the inclusion of “none of the above” as an alternative to the territorial status quo.
McClintock also unsuccessfully pushed for the need for a two-thirds vote to be recognized in order to recognize the winning formula, arguing that it was up to Congress to make the final decision on the formation of the state, and that the English would be allowed to enter the United States. to make the official language and language of operation of. The government of Puerto Rico, including its offices, courts and public education.
Meanwhile, the committee’s minority leader, Bruce Westerman (Arkansas), proposed that if the bill becomes law, its validity would be crippled until the purposes of the Promessa law are met.
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 Haise (Georgia) sought to halt the state until Puerto Rico had paid off all of its public debt. Hiss also proposed that the United States maintain its military bases and avoid Chinese influence under a sovereign Puerto Rico.
Democrats led by Grijalva, Nidia Velázquez and Darren Soto and Commissioner González have all opposed the Republican amendments. Loudly, in Grijalva’s opinion, the committee rejected them. But, formal votes on those amendments will come later in the day.
“We have to deal with the legacy of colonialism here”Grijalva indicated, opening the session, and underlining that 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,” González said.
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.