Rep. Don Young (R-AK), House Floor Statement upon the Introduction of H. Con. Res. 300, Expressing the Sense of Congress Regarding the Commonwealth Option Presented in the Puerto Rican Plebiscite, Friday, Sept. 30, 1994. [On the November 14, 1993 plebiscite ballot], [t]he people were presented a mythical commonwealth option which proposed significant changes to the current relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States[.]
It should not be surprising, given human nature, that a plurality of the people voted for a guarantee of virtually all of the benefits and assistance of U.S. citizenship without the corresponding duties and obligations. Notwithstanding the option of `all-the-goodies-without-the-price,’ and to the grand credit of the people of Puerto Rico, a combined majority chose status options offering additional rights and responsibilities. A near plurality of voters chose statehood with the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities of the 50 States; a small fraction voted for independence with the inherent rights, powers, and obligations of separate sovereignty.
The commonwealth formula is clearly not an economically or politically viable alternative to the current self-governing, unincorporated territorial status of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; and the unalterable bilateral pact that such commonwealth formula proposes as the vehicle for permanent union of Puerto Rico with the United States is not a constitutionally viable alternative to the current self-governing, unincorporated territorial status of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
It is unfortunate that the voters have faced unrealistic and inflated expectations of a supposed commonwealth relationship with the United States. However, this has become an opportunity to set the record straight; to quell the commonwealth fantasy status which continues to be promoted to the detriment of the society it is purported to help. While it is true that the United States-Puerto Rico relationship shares many things in common, no permanent union secured by an unalterable bilateral pact with irrevocable American citizenship is possible under any variation of the proposed commonwealth formula. Our U.S. Constitution provides the only avenue for irrevocable U.S. citizenship, total equality, and permanent union.