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The Puerto Rico Statehood Commission

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello is committed to making Puerto Rico statehood a reality, now that 97% of Puerto Rico voters have chosen statehood in the most recent referendum in June. The next step toward statehood is for Congress to vote to admit Puerto Rico.

Thirty-two U.S. territories have already become U.S. states. After they petitioned for statehood, these territories had to wait for Congress to take action. A number of them got impatient waiting to be admitted, and tried to speed up the process. One of the most common methods of hurrying it up is known as the Tennessee Plan, because Tennessee was the first to use it.

Essentially, the Tennessee Plan is to send a slate of congressional representatives to Washington. Tennessee’s reps, and those of half a dozen other current states, demanded seats in Congress.

That usually doesn’t work. Historically, quite a few slates of representatives had to get back on the train home and try again later.

With persistence, though, all 32 territories petitioning for statehood were eventually admitted.

Puerto Rico has commissioned a slate of representatives who will be heading to Washington to hold the conversations needed to move toward Puerto Rico’s admission as a state.

The seven members of the Commission:

  • Former Governor Carlos Romero Barcelo
  • Former Governor Pedro Rosselló González
  • Former Governor Luis Fortuño
  • Former Senate President Charlie Rodríguez Colón
  • Baseball Hall of Fame member Iván Rodríguez Torres
  • GOP Committee representative Zoraida Fonalledas
  • Brigadier General Félix Santoni

Rodriguez is an independent; the rest of the Commission is evenly divided between Republican and Democratic leaders. Romero Barcelo and Fortuno are both also former Resident Commissioners; both have therefore actually been congressional representatives for Puerto Rico already.

The selection of these strong leaders, and the bipartisan make up of the Commission, should allay any concerns in Congress about partisanship or lack of experience. These individuals were chose with the believe that they should be able to hit the ground running when Puerto Rico is admitted, and also to support the process of admission.

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