The Votes Against the Puerto Rico Status Act in Committee

Although The Puerto Rico Status Act (HR 8393), was approved by the House Natural Resources Committee two weeks ago, the vote was not unanimous.

Support for the bill was bipartisan, but so was the opposition. The criticism against the bill mainly focused on the process – notably the relatively short amount of time the committee had to review the bill’s specifics even though hearings were held in Puerto Rico – as well as the ultimate end of U.S. citizenship in a new country of Puerto Rico, how the U.S. would handle Puerto Rico’s debt during a transition, and traditional concerns as to whether Spanish could still be spoken in a state of Puerto Rico.  Spanish is widely used in many states of the United States today.

Democratic objections

Two left-leaning democrats on the Committee, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), voted against the bill in committee.

Garcia joined Republicans in lamenting the lack of hearings on the bill, apart from the public hearings held in San Juan. In a statement, he said, “I could not in good faith support the passage of  H.R. 8393, Puerto Rico Status Act in its current form… [T]he bill lacks clarity and specificity on key issues for my constituents and their loved ones on the island including how U.S. citizenship would be defined under Sovereignty in Free Association, the status of Puerto Rico in the Olympic games, and the future of the island’s debt and tax policies.”

“We’ve been to Puerto Rico and heard from the people there,” Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) said. “Who in Puerto Rico have we not heard from yet?”

Only residents of Puerto Rico will be eligible to vote on the status question.

Republican objections

Apart from Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR), all the Republicans on the committee voted against HR 8393.

Several members proposed amendments on a variety of subjects including language use in government, ballot options, travel and work authorization, Department of Defense assets, debts, and more.

Several Republican members spoke out against approving the bill on the grounds that there had been no hearings on this particular bill, though they agreed that there had been lots of hearings on the subject of Puerto Rico status and that no other relevant committees had been given the chance to vet the bill or provide input.

Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) had already told El Nuevo Dia that he did not feel that he had enough information to vote on the bill.

Updated August 2, 2022

4 Comments

randerson43

I am still at a loss as to what the U.S. has to say about the future of P.R. UNTIL the people of P.R. decide THEIR future.
In my opinion, there are STILL ONLY TWO realistic choices for the Islanders: INDEPENDENCE or STATEHOOD!!! All other options are just SMOKE AND MIRRORS!!!

Tihanyi

I have responded to this question as it is understood by the Treaty of Paris of 1898. It does not, however, explain the underlying colonial status of Puerto Rico and US control of it. Indeed, the people of Puerto Rico should have the right to decide their destiny. However, asking the Puerto Ricans to decide their fate after 124 years of colonial status and the rejection of the wish of the majority of wanting independence about a century ago is an unfair request to say the least for various reasons. Since citizenship was imposed upon the Puerto Ricans in 1917 as a war measure, they have been drafted into the US military and they have served in disproportionate numbers. Another big factor is that there are more Puerto Ricans living in the US (around 5 million) than in Puerto Rico (3.2 million) and understandably many families have split allegiances. Puerto Rico is just another convoluted, complex consequence of colonization. The expansionist US took Puerto Rico from Spain in 1898 for strategic reasons, namely to guard the Caribbean and the shipping route toward the envisioned Panama Canal, a shorter route to send commercial and navy ships from the east coast to the west coast. The invention of the aircraft carrier, a moving military island, made the need of a static island obsolete. Now the US doesn’t know what to do with it and the eight plus million Puerto Rican citizens.

Tihanyi

I wonder if your statement is rhetorical and you know the answer. The US acquired Puerto Rico in 1898 in the wake of the Spanish-American War of that year. The peace conference in Paris, also in 1898, gave plenary power to the Congress of the United States to determine the status of Puerto Rico at a later time. The Puerto Rico Report website innocently states that in 1917 Puerto Ricans became citizens of the United States. In fact, citizenship was imposed on the Puerto Ricans when most of them wanted independence. The US was concerned about German encroachment in the Caribbean and quickly imposed citizenship to tie Puerto Rico to the US and Puerto Ricans were drafted into the military. However, Puerto Rico was not set on a path toward statehood. The US has been treating Puerto Rico as a property since 1898 with minor changes and limited autonomy. Luis Muños Marín wanted a more honorable status for Puerto Rico, under a constitution of its own but he was outmaneuvered by the US. The US has managed to take off Puerto Rico from the list of colonies at the UN, allowed for a constitution but kept control of Puerto Rico. Post Second World War required decolonization but many colonies still had to fight bloody wars to achieve independence. Vietnam (declaration 1945, defeat of France 1954) and Algeria (1962 after an eight-year struggle) from France. Britain gave up India but Kenya (1963) had to fight for if and so did Angola from Portugal (1975). The US took Puerto Rico from Spain for strategic reasons, to guard the passage towards the Panama Canal. Sadly, the Puerto Ricans have little to say about their future.

Leave a Reply