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New House GOP Chairman Open to Statehood

It became clear yesterday that the new Republican chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives committee with lead responsibility for the political status of territories is open to statehood for Puerto Rico.

Rob Bishop (Utah) was quoted as saying that he would not be opposed if a majority of the committee wanted to pass a bill sponsored by 71 members of the House led by Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner that would make the territory a State January 1st, 2021 if Puerto Rico votes for the status a second time.

He also opposed the idea that the use of Spanish in the territory should be a bar to equality for Puerto Rico within the nation. The language used by a State is a matter that society can manage without the Federal government imposing a mandate, the Natural Resources Committee Chairman explained.

In an interview with El Nuevo Dia newspaper, Bishop even more strongly rejected opposing statehood because of a guess that a State of Puerto Rico would elect more Democrats than Republicans, allowing that some Republicans may have done so.

That is “not a valid reason,” he stressed, “the potential support for a party should never be the reason for being for or against a petition for statehood.”

He also implied that how Puerto Rico would actually vote as a State is uncertain, recalling Utah’s case.

In that regard, he suggested developing a Republican and Democratic party system in Puerto Rico to advance statehood, noting that doing so helped obtain statehood for Utah. Before, the territory of Utah’s politics were conducted between Mormon and non-Mormon parties.

Puerto Rico’s politics are conducted among three parties. One champions statehood. Another independence. The third, the “commonwealth” party, is split between one faction that wants Puerto Rico to remain a territory but be exempt from some of the Congress’ powers to govern territories and another wing that wants Puerto Rico to become a nation in an association with the U.S. but with the continued granting of U.S. citizenship.

Republican and Democratic parties in Puerto Rico only exist to elect delegates to presidential nominating conventions of their national parties.

Bishop could not explain why most Republicans in the House had opposed Puerto Rico status choice bills in the past but he pointed out that the Republican Party has officially endorsed statehood if Puerto Ricans want the status, as did President George H.W. Bush. (He could also have cited President Ford, not to mention the public statements of support of Presidents Nixon and Reagan.)

The House member did offer, however, that, “Sometimes there are side issues that impact your vote. I think that could have influenced the voting of some” Republicans on status choice bills in 1998 and 2010.

As interviewer Jose Delgado recalled, Bishop recently revealed that he thinks he would now vote in favor of the status choice bill that passed the Democratic controlled House in 2010, although he voted against it then.

The notion that Puerto Rico would continue to have the representation in international athletic events under statehood that it has as a territory “sounds strange,” he further observed.

Puerto Rico’s “commonwealth” party has gotten some nativists in the States to oppose statehood for the territory because most U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico continue to use Spanish. The party has also caused some Republicans in Congress to be concerned by ‘commonwealther’ claims that the territory would elect more Democrats than Republicans as a State.

The party has additionally tried to generate opposition to statehood by asserting that Puerto Rico would maintain its territorial international athletic teams under statehood.

Bishop disclosed that he had not decided whether he would personally support the statehood bill sponsored by Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, the President of Puerto Rico’s statehood political party, but emphasized that he wants Committee members to decide for themselves. He would not push them one way or the other on the bill or on other bills on the status issue.

He thought that it would be appropriate, however, to have a hearing on the statehood bill but he stressed that decisions on a hearing are up to Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska), a bill sponsor.

Supports Federal Plebiscite Law

The full Committee Chairman could not predict what the Congress would do if Puerto Ricans voted for statehood or nationhood under a Federal law enacted in January of last year but he expressed support for the law. Under it, the Federal government has allocated funds for a plebiscite in Puerto Rico on an option or options that can resolve the question of the territory’s ultimate status.

The option(s) are to be proposed by Puerto Rico’s Elections Commission but must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Commission, although headed by an appointee of the governor, also has one representative each from all three of the territory’s political parties.

The law was enacted because the “commonwealth” party governor and legislative majorities of Puerto Rico very narrowly elected in November 2012 lobbied against Federal action on statehood based on a plebiscite held under local law along with the elections. Bishop recognized in the interview, that the current status, often misleadingly called “commonwealth” after a word in the official name of the insular government but really territory status, “was defeated” and “about 60% voted for statehood” among the alternatives.

He felt, however, that whether the views of those who voted on the question of continuing the current territory status but not on the alternatives to it should be considered is a “philosophical debate. It is a little gray. I recognize both sides … I do not want to engage in a debate about what Puerto Ricans are saying internally.”

Commonwealth” party Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla supported the losing territory status in the plebiscite held at the time of his narrow election.

Garcia and ‘commonwealthers’ in the Legislative Assembly dispute the plebiscite because it did not include the party’s status proposal, although the Obama, George W. Bush, and Clinton Administrations and congressional committee leaders of both national parties have rejected the proposal as impossible for constitutional and other reasons.

Under the ‘developed commonwealth’ plan, Puerto Rico would be a nation but the U.S. would be permanently bound to it and to the following terms of an association: U.S. laws would apply but Puerto Rico could nullify the application. U.S. courts would have jurisdiction but Puerto Rico could limit the jurisdiction. Puerto Rico could enter into international agreements as if it were a sovereign nation. All current assistance to Puerto Ricans would continue and the Commonwealth government would get a new subsidy. U.S. citizenship would continue to be granted.

The Federal plebiscite law requires U.S. Justice Department approval of status options for the plebiscite to ensure that Puerto Ricans are not asked to vote on proposals that cannot be status options.

Hasn’t Considered “Commonwealth” 

The new Natural Resources Committee Chairman did not know what the options for the plebiscite provided for by the 2014 Federal law should be. He thought, however, that the current territory status, which got 46% of the vote in the 2012 plebiscite should not be ruled out as a possibility in a future vote even though it lost because public sentiment can change.

Bishop has also not considered the “commonwealth” party’s status proposals, according to the El Nuevo Dia report.

Puerto Rican Initiative 

Although he did not find the 2012 plebiscite petition for statehood to be conclusive, Bishop put himself squarely behind Puerto Ricans being able to decide the territory’s ultimate status. “One wants Puerto Ricans to decide the matter and that they exercise their self-determination,” he declared.

He considered the decision to be an “internal” one for Puerto Ricans, however.

In part, this was because he does not want the Committee’s actions on the status issue “to become a soccer ball … in the elections in Puerto Rico and the Committee to become the subject of controversy.”

Wants to Help Gas Pipeline 

Bishop, who became Chairman in January, disclosed that he had no plans regarding Puerto Rico other than to help the insular government get Environmental Protection Agency approval for an undersea pipeline to move liquid natural gas from a planned offshore receiving terminal to a power plant on land.

He would like it if another member of the House sponsored a bill to help and for there to be a hearing such a bill. He noted, however, that that territorial government would need to have a good power system plan for the bill to advance.


14 thoughts on “New House GOP Chairman Open to Statehood”

  1. Yesterday I blasted Rob Bishop as anti Statehood and bigoted against Puerto Rico on the EL Nuevo Dia Newspaper comments section.

    I need to apologize.

    I forgot it was “El Nuevo Dia” a Biased Pro colony newspaper.

    The reason? The ENDI newspaper headline was;
    Bishop; “Commonwealth should be an option.”
    The article literally painted Bishop as anti statehood thru evasion of his position on whether any status bill would get his final approval.
    Bishop; “Thats out of my hands, really. Don Young Determines that.”


    Now I know that once again, EL NUEVO DIA abused the language barrier to alter what Bishop said.

    Everything about Bishop and statehood WAS OMITTED from yesterday’s ENDI edition!!!!

    To make matters worse, this filthy newspaper is the SOLE source of Puerto Rico News for the HUFFINGTON POST and now the HUFF POST constantly mocks statehood. Every Huff Post article about Puerto Rico has a side window called “5 reasons Puerto Rico wont be a state” Its all mockfull PPD propaganda.

    In 2013 The Wall Street Journal ran a story tittled; “Puerto Rico statehood gets big push”. It was an article in favor of statehood which also provided an opposing viewpoint. EL NUEVO DIA discarded 90% of the article (all pro statehood arguments) and only published the opposing view under title; “Wall Street Journal; Statehood faces adverse opposition in DC”

    Isn’t it illegal to alter a news story from WSJ or any other newspaper to fit your biases and still claim its from the Wall Street Journal?

    1. Unfortunately no, it is not. It’s called Freedom of Speech, and news organizations with deep political views are free to slant their news coverage as they wish.

  2. Good evening Luis, it’s good to see you again! You are absolutely correct, END (or “El Popular Dia” as I call it) has a habit of reporting half truths and even outright lying to suit their pro-colony agenda as the mouthpiece for the PPD. Their desperation is evident.

  3. If PR becomes a state, there will be no more PR in international sports competition. You really can’t have it both ways, otherwise we would also have CA, NY, etc in the Olympics. While that might provide for some interesting competition, it will never happen.

    PR could, however, have some interesting national competition if the economic outlook in the Island improves. An MLB and NBA team there would be viable, along with athletics in Universities (possibly joining the SEC).

    Believe it or not, I have heard from some friends that the fact PR won’t be represented in international competition (sports or otherwise) as a very, very big reason as to why they do not want the island to become a state.

    1. I see no value in the Olympics as far as helping Puerto Ricans.
      It was a mistake allowing Puerto Rico , a US unincorporated territory, to act as if it were a sovereign nation.
      Olympic representation and Ms Universe were two mistakes Congress aallowed that the Populist Democrat Party has abused to reinforce the 60 year old farce that PR is a “nation in a Free Associated State compact with the US.”

      The legs and high heels of Ms Universe will do nothing to advance Puerto Rico’s income and Legal constitutional rights.

      ENDI newspaper among others in PR refer to US news as “international”.:-)

      1. I couldent have said it better, the amount of money wasted on the Olympics team, the ICPR, Miss Universe, etc could be better used to provide a better education for children, or to generate tax cuts for economic investment.

        Puerto Ricans have been swallowing up the pro-colony fairy tales and propaganda for far too long. We need to de-politicize the state Department of Education.

  4. Understanding that the majority of the Puerto Ricans in the World live in the continental US by excess of 1.2 Million… statistically there is no way that Puerto Rico will be home to the majority of Puerto Ricans in the future.

    In other words the US IS HOME to Puerto Ricans so the US needs not to leave PR it needs to bring in PR on equal status.

    Oh and by the way HR727 just got 10 more representatives onboard as of yesterday!!

    LONG LIVE THE MOVEMENT FOR EQUAL RIGHTS to Puerto Rico… its as simple as that.

  5. Ramon, and what of the 95% of Puerto Ricans who support permanent union with the US? Why should we overrule the wishes of 95% of the population in favor of 5%?

    Do you not understand the concept of democracy and self determination?

  6. I have come to the conclusion that separatists are delusional and cannot be reasoned with. They live in some sort of alternate universe.

    They claim to favor decolonization but in reality do little more than prop up the colony by joining the colonialists in their delaying tactics. They are the other side of the colonialist coin.

  7. The Number 1 issue is that it is a shame that the United States of America still holds the Puerto Rican Nation in COLONIAL BANDAGE. The Number 2 issue is that that bondage is tied to food coupons; they are buying the Puerto Rican National Pride with food. If the USA is, SERIOUSLY, a Freedom loving nation IT SHOULD INMEDIATELY LEAVE PUERTO RICO, GET OUT OF THERE, AND TAKE WITH THEM THE PUERTO RICANS WHO WANT TO REMAIN AMERICANS, and leave our Nation to us the native Puerto Ricans to enjoy real Freedom and Liberty.

  8. You still havent answered my question, what about the 95% of Puerto Ricans who don’t share your dream?

    What your advocating is tyranny of the extreme minority. You keep talking of “freedom” and “liberty” but you have no idea what those words mean if you will not respect the wishes of the vast majority.

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