Trump VP Choice Mike Pence Supports Self-Determination for Puerto Rico

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has chosen Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his vice-presidential running mate. Pence has a history of support for democracy for Puerto Rico, including his vote for H.R. 2499 in 2010.

H.R. 2499, the “Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2010,” was a bill introduced by Pedro Pierluisi, Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico, “to provide for a federally sanctioned self-determination process for the people of Puerto Rico” that passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association has included Pence in their roster of conservative leaders supporting statehood for Puerto Rico.

The bill proposed a two-step process in which a plebiscite would first be held on the question of whether the voters of Puerto Rico wanted a change or preferred the status quo, territory status. If the majority of voters wanted a change, a second vote would be held, offering all of the territory’s status options.

The bill passed in the House on April 29, 2010, but it was blocked from a vote in the Senate by a Democrat and a Republican at the request of Puerto Rico’s Popular Democratic Party (PDP).

The Government of Puerto Rico then held a plebiscite on its own along with the November 2012 elections for public office.

The questions on the plebiscite ballot and their results were as follows:

  • Do you agree that Puerto Rico should continue to have its present form of territorial status?
    • Yes: 46%
    • No: 54%
  • Irrespective of your answer to the first question, indicate which of the following non-territorial options you prefer.

Pence was the representative for Indiana’s District 6 in the U.S. House from 2000 to 2012, when he was elected Governor. He was Chairman of the Republican Conference in the House and Chairman of the House Republican Study Committee during his tenure in Congress. He is known for his support of the military, career and technical education, and his fiscal responsibility.

In 2014, President Obama proposed and the Republican Congress passed funding for another plebiscite. This would be the first vote sponsored by and conducted under the auspices of the Federal government. Its options would be statehood, independence, or nationhood in an association with the U.S. that either nation could end, or any one or two of the three.

The option or options must be able to finally resolve the question of Puerto Rico’s ultimate status and not conflict with the Constitution, laws, and policies of the U.S. So, neither the current territory status sometimes misleadingly called “commonwealth” nor different “commonwealth status” proposals that the Federal government have said are impossible could be options.

In 2014, the current governor of Puerto Rico proposed holding this vote but it has still not been scheduled and it does not appear that it will be this year. The governor and what is now a minority in his PDP have wanted to include an impossible “commonwealth status proposal” and another wing of the party has wanted to include a nationhood in an association with the U.S. option.

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