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Puerto Rico Status Act shelved in the US House

by | Aug 16, 2022 | Congress, Headlines, Puerto Rico, Status | 1 comment

The Puerto Rico Status Act, which passed after a grueling United States House Committee on Natural Resources hearing, stalled in Congress, falling victim to the frenzy before Congress goes to recess. With other priorities, both Senate and House leaders have indicated the vote, originally planned for the last week of July, will be postponed to September.

Support for the bill weakened in the House, with Republicans refusing to support the bill and Democrats pointing out issues within the bill. Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (NPP, R) of Puerto Rico, the sole Republican in support of the bill, attempted to rally support but failed to convince other Republican representatives. Representatives in the House raised concerns about the drafting process, citing concerns of lack of transparency. Representatives Jesús García (D) of Illinois and Rashida Tlaib (D) of Michigan voted against the bill in committee while Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) remains undecided after removing her name as a sponsor of the bill. They all indicated concerns with the drafting process and believed Puerto Ricans, especially Puerto Ricans living on the mainland, had little input. Representatives and advocates also claimed the process was not open, urging for further hearings in Washington, DC, and also suggesting the option of remaining a territory. 

Representative Raúl Grijalva (D) of Arizona, who is chair of the Committee on Natural Resources, noted to reporters, “If [the vote] doesn’t happen now, which I think is a mistake, the last chance for this bill is September. There is intense lobbying…This isn’t about the process. It’s about protecting the status quo. Who benefits from the status quo? Political elites in Puerto Rico who prefer commonwealth.” Another negotiator of the bill, Representative Nydia Velázquez (D) of New York spoke on the postponement, explaining, “Apparently there are some people who want for this to remain the same. We’re gonna be here 100 years from now dealing with the same issue, with the colonial status.”

Advocacy groups have slowed down progress with the bill in order to advance their own concerns, lobbying Representatives and Senators. Power 4 Puerto Rico wants more hearings to create a better understanding of the bill, accusing the negotiators of failing to transparently draft the bill. Another organization, the League of Latin American Citizens, believes Puerto Ricans should have the right to self-determination and called for another option of maintaining the current territorial status to have all options available, although the organization supports statehood.

Even if the bill passes the house, it is unclear if it has support in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) of New York cited other concerns, saying, “Right now the three things we are focusing now in this work period as you know are CHIPS, reconciliation, and the PACT Act.” Democratic senators backed self-determination for Puerto Ricans, planning to support statehood or independence depending on what Puerto Ricans wanted. Republican senators indicated they were hesitant to support adding another state, while others had not spent time on the issue. Senators remain divided on whether they support the plebiscite, support statehood, support independence, or support the current territorial status.

Puerto Ricans will wait once again for the right to choose their own future, pushed to the back burner by other domestic issues and little time before the 2022 midterm elections.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aamir Jamil

Aamir Jamil

Aamir Jamil is a senior at Millburn High School in Millburn, New Jersey. After living in Switzerland and Saudi Arabia, he became fascinated with international affairs, politics, and history. He enjoys reading, researching politics and political trends, discovering American and world history, and poring over the news in his free time. Other hobbies include playing the clarinet and writing for his local newspaper. He is a Federal Affairs Intern Correspondent at Pasquines.

1 Comment

  1. DENNIS FREYTES

    TO: Honorable US Congress; US President; US Federal/ Supreme Court; PR Government
    RE: Do Right–Support Equal Rights for Puerto Ricans–approve HR-8393-PR Status Act

    Hi! Today, The US Federal Government undemocratically controls the US Territory of Puerto Rico–with more fellow US Citizens-US Veterans than 20 States– that have NO Federal “consent of the governed”! Thus, we ask you to patriotically support/ Vote for HR-8393-Puerto Rico Status Act- a PR democratic Vote on: STATEHOOD vs INDEPENDENCE or Independence with PACT of Free Association– that will end Federal oppression, going on since 1898 (for over 125+ years).
    Even if one US Citizen (Individual) doesn’t have full Rights, is one too many!
    Since 1898, millions of US Citizens have NO Vote for US President; NO just representation in the US Congress; NO Parity in Federal Programs-Laws-Funding; NO permanent statutory US Citizenship (even if residing in a State-some of which are your Constituents)-covertly creating a 2d Class US Citizenship. Plus, the Federal Government– controls PR’s Borders, Currency, Laws, Security, Economy, Trade, etc.
    The Federal Government should be the Servant of ALL the People; NOT the Master of some!
    The People with Equal Rights come first, not a “separate & unequal” Status! Remember, in our great US Republic, the power resides with all “We the People” (not just some)–per our Declaration of Independence that calls for “Consent of the Governed”; our noble US Constitution that calls for Equal Rights-Fairness, and a Republican form of Government or a Representative Democracy (“a Government of the People, by the People, and for the People”–Lincoln)! Besides, unjust Laws (racist Insular Cases) which allow for the US Constitution to NOT be fully applied to US Puerto Rico– must be revoked!
    Puerto Ricans Sacrifice & Contribute to our USA since 1513!
    US Puerto Ricans are about 10m strong, (most live in the States)-are integrated as the 2d largest US Hispanic Group that sacrifice; greatly contribute (in all fields of endeavor) to our US. Since 1898, Puerto Ricans patriotically shed sweat, blood, and tears for our US Flag (WWI; WW-II; Korea; Vietnam; Global War on Terrorism…). PR pays more Federal Taxes than 6 States; is a US Market that creates Hundreds of Thousands of US Jobs. PR Ancestors (1st Governor of PR & Crew) came to Florida (in 1513)–107 years before the Pilgrims; others fought in the US War of Independence (1776)…; help develop our now USA.
    “We must Guard against a Tyranny of a Majority!”
    The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT can end this unjust inequality now, but, has not done so! Instead, some provide ageless EXCUSES that create a double standard that weren’t applied to other US Territories before Puerto Rico; politically distort; are closet racists; misinform. This creates stalemate; perpetuates Federal oppression which is against the highest precepts-ideals of our Representative Democracy! You can’t have it both ways, either you support Equal Rights or you allow Federal discrimination!
    Silence to Federal discrimination; supports injustice!
    THE TIME IS NOW to do RIGHT—SUPPORT HR-8393-PR Status Act; enact a companion bill in the US Senate; patriotically ensure Equal Rights-Fairness for all “We the People”, not just some!
    UNITED with Truth, Reason, and Civic Action-we will prevail! THANKS! God Bless!

    Reply

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