On Thursday, April 29th, Congress will take up a piece of legislation, HR 2499. The bill, while non-binding, will require Puerto Rico to hold an election on a referendum asking it’s citizens, “Do you want to maintain the status quo?” Notice that it does not mention statehood? Yes, Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration are trying to pull another fast one.
In the past 40 years, Puerto Rico has voted three times on the question of becoming a state. Each time they voted it down. In 1998, voters were given four choices, A) statehood, B) sovereignty, C) modified commonwealth or D) None of the above. Option D got the majority. In 1967 and 1993, only options A, B and C were on the ballots. The options of independence or a modified commonwealth usually get only about 3% of the vote in 1998. Statehood got 46.6% and 46.7% in 1993 and 1998, only 39% in 1967.
The current drive is being pushed by the Democrats to placate to the Latino voters. Much like the new law in Arizona, which only requires police to contact Immigration officials for those subjects who have neither a valid U.S. ID or visa during routine traffic stops and arrests, Democrats are attempting to muddy the waters. If Puerto Rico does vote NO on the referendum detailed in HR2499, the next step would be to elect six representatives and two senators. A further vote for statehood may not necessarily be needed, thanks to the “Tennessee Plan”.
Tennessee, and later Alaska, entered the union by electing members for the House and Senate without applying to Congress for statehood. The elected officials just went to Washington, D.C. and demanded to be seated, and they were! In June of 2009, the United Nations Committee on Decolonization drafted a resolution calling for the United States to enact a process to change the current status of Puerto Rico. The Natural Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives voted 30-8 in July, 2009 and passed HR 2499 – The Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009. If the citizens of Puerto Rico like their tax-free status and vote Yes on the referendum, HR2499 requires subsequent votes every eight years. I guess the Democrats want mandatory votes until they get it right!
Is there a connection between this move by Democrats to pass HR 2499 now and set the stage of Puerto Rico to become a state and the recent anti-illegal alien law passed in Arizona? A similar bill, called HR 900 The Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2007, failed to pass in the Congress. That bill called for a referendum with the options of statehood, independence or an associated republic. Obviously, the Hispanic vote is a hot potato right now and with the Arizona law causing so much fervor, Democrats have pushed the bill front and center to take advantage of the situation.