Headlines From Our Twitter Feed

Friday, June 19, 2015

PR Resident Commissioner Announces Status Hearings

Res. Comm. Pedro Pierluisi

Press Release

June 17, 2015

Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi announced today that the Subcommittee
on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs within the House Natural Resources
Committee will hold a hearing on Puerto Rico’s political status on Wednesday,
June 24th.  The Chairman of the Subcommittee is Congressman Don Young of
Alaska and the Ranking Democratic Member is Congressman Raul Ruiz of Ca-
lifornia.  The Resident Commissioner is a member of the Subcommittee.

On April 23rd, Pierluisi sent a letter to the leadership of the House Natural Re-
sources Committee, requesting that a hearing be scheduled.  Specifically, the
Resident Commissioner urged the Committee or Subcommittee to invite witne-
sses to testify about H.R. 727, the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Process
Act, and about the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, which became Pu-
blic Law 113-76 and which includes important language on the status issue.

Pierluisi introduced H.R. 727 on February 4, 2015.  The bill authorizes a federa-
lly-sponsored vote to be held in Puerto Rico within one year of the bill’s enact-
ment.  The ballot would contain a single question:  “Shall Puerto Rico be admi-
tted as a State of the United States?”  If a majority of voters affirm their desire
for admission, the bill provides for an automatic series of steps to occur that
would culminate in Puerto Rico being admitted as a state in January 2021.

“H.R. 727 already has 108 cosponsors.  There have been approximately 2,800
bills introduced in the House of Representatives so far this Congress, and H.R.
727 has more bipartisan support than 99 percent of those bills.  Given this level
of support, it is appropriate for the Subcommittee to hold a hearing to discuss
the legislation,” said Pierluisi.

The Resident Commissioner also led the fight for passage of P.L. 113-76, which
responds to the historic 2012 status referendum in Puerto Rico in which voters re-
jected the current territory status and expressed a preference for statehood.  The
law provides an appropriation of $2.5 million to fund the first federally-sponsored
status vote in Puerto Rico’s history.  This funding will remain available until it is
expended by the Puerto Rico government.  While P.L. 113-76 does not prescribe
the exact format of the ballot, leaving those details to the Puerto Rico government,
it does require the U.S. Department of Justice to certify that the ballot and voter
education materials are consistent with U.S. law and policy.  The Resident Commi-
ssioner has called for this funding to be used to conduct a straightforward, up-or-
down vote on whether Puerto Rico should be admitted as a state.

“Unfortunately, although more than 16 months have elapsed since P.L. 113-76 be-
came law, the Puerto Rico government has not submitted a proposed ballot to the
U.S. Department of Justice or taken any meaningful action to schedule this federally
-sponsored vote.  It is my hope that the Subcommittee will explore this matter in
detail at the hearing,” said Pierluisi.

Puerto Rico is currently experiencing the most severe economic and fiscal crisis in
its history.  The root cause of this crisis is Puerto Rico’s undemocratic and unequal
political status.

“As I have repeatedly stated, no people in history have prospered while being de-
prived of basic political and civil rights, and it is not reasonable to expect Puerto
Rico to be an exception to this rule.  This hearing is timely because it will provide
a forum to discuss the inextricable connection between Puerto Rico’s territory sta-
tus and its economic challenges,” said Pierluisi.

No comments:

Post a Comment