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tv   U.S. House of Representatives  CSPAN  April 29, 2010 1:00pm-5:00pm EDT

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the speaker pro tempore: on this vote the yeas are 222 and the nays are 190. the resolution is adopted.
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for what purpose does the gentleman from illinois rise? >> i ask for a recorded vote. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentlewoman from new york rise? ms. slaughter: table a motion to reconsider. the speaker pro tempore: the question is on the motion to table. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. >> mr. speaker, i ask for a recorded vote. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from illinois. >> mr. speaker, i ask for a recorded vote. the speaker pro tempore: a recorded vote is requested. all those in favor of taking this vote by the yeas and nays will rise and remain standing until counted. a sufficient number having arisen, a recorded vote is ordered. members will record their votes by electronic device. this is a 15-minute vote. on the motion to table. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of represerepresentatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.]
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the speaker pro tempore: on this vote the yeas are 199 and the nays are 186. the motion is adopted. without objection the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. >> mr. speaker, mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from west virginia. mr. rahall: i ask unanimous consent that votes for the remaineder of the day be limited to five minutes.
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spoipt chair will not entertain that request -- the speaker pro tempore: the chair will not entertain that request without proper consultation. mr. rahall: then i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. rahall: mr. speaker, i yield myself -- you're supposed to call the bill up. mr. gutierrez: thank you, mr. speaker. the gentleman has nothing to worry about. let the debate begin. we're going to win this debate today. thank you very much. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to house resolution 1305 and rule 18 the chair declares the house in the committee of the whole house for consideration h.r. 2499. the chair appoints the gentleman from california, mr. schiff, to preside over the committee of preside over the committee of the whole.
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the chair: the house is in the committee of the whole house on the state of the union for the consideration of h.r. 2499 which the clerk will report by title. the clerk: a bill to provide for a federally sanctioned self-determination process for the people of puerto rico. the chair: pursuant to the rule, the bill is considered read the first time. general debate shall not exceed one hour and 30 minutes with one hour equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the
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committee on natural resources and 30 minutes controlled by the the gentlewoman from new york, mr. velazquez, or her designee. the gentleman from west virginia, mr. rahall, and the gentleman from washington, mr. hastings, each will control 30 minutes. the the gentlewoman from -- the gentlewoman from new york mr. will control 30 minutes -- from new york will control 30 minutes. when the house is in order the chair will recognize the gentleman. come to order. the committee will come to order. members will take their conversations off the floor. members, please take your conversations outside.
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the chair recognizes the gentleman from west virginia. mr. rahall: mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on h.r. 2499. the chair: the gentleman's request will need to be made in the full house. the gentleman is recognized. mr. rahall: mr. chairman, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the chair: one moment. the gentleman will suspend. members, please take your conversations off the floor. the gentleman is recognized. mr. rahall: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, i have the privilege of representing great state of west virginia in this body, a state that was born amidst civil conflict in the middle of a war. it is said that west virginia's the only state to be formed by is he seeding from a confederate state during the civil war. in fact, the western side of the
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state stayed loyal to the union. puerto rico also joined the american family as a result of war. >> the house is not in order. the chair: the gentleman's correct. the house is not in order. the gentleman will suspend. members, please take your conversations off the floor. the gentleman from west virginia's recognized. mr. rahall: thank you, mr. chairman. puerto rico also joined the american family as a result of war. in 1898 during the spanish-american war the island was invaded by the united states and was ceded by spain to our country over the treaty of paris. the island's century-long history within the american family has been significant. puerto rico was one of the first areas outside the continental united states where the american flag was raised. to the united states it marked a milestone in our own political development. when once our union of states
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was comprised of renegade english colonies we then stepped into a role that we previously had fought against. given our own experience would anyone have imagined that our new colony would be disenfranchised and kept unequal in our own political framework? our commitment to puerto rico's advancement under the 1898 treat ofy -- treaty of paris should be our judge. if our measure of success is today's puerto rico then i say puerto rico has done well by the united states. it is a showcase of democracy in the caribbean. having some of the highest voter turnout rates in our nation, puerto rico shames many of our own states with its energy and enthuse yass much in electing its leaders -- enthuse yass much in electing -- enthusiasm in electing our leaders. it's cared a home away are from home for many companies.
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equally in important to puerto rico's prowess is the island's contributions to our own social fabric. every aspect of american art, music, theater and sport has been influenced by puerto rico's own culture and its people. and beyond such contributions, there remains puerto rico's patriotism, beginning in world war i, when thousands of puerto ricans served in the u.s. military. there's no doubt that many more thousands are currently serving in our armed forces, fighting our wars and dying for our country. to the families who have lost a husband, a father, a daughter or a son in our wars, i take this moment as we all do to absolute you -- salute you. we can debate political status but what is not subject of debate is the patriotism, the patriotism of the people of puerto rico. we are here today on the floor of the u.s. house of representatives because in spite
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of what we have gained from each other there has been no ultimate achievement in puerto rico's political status. which really is the greatest commitment the u.s. has to all of our territories. since the establishment of the current commonwealth stat us in 1952, four popular votes have been held on the status of puerto rico. but none of them were sanctioned by this body, the congress of the united states. going back just to the 1970's, at least 40 separate measures have been introduced in congress to resolve or clarify puerto rico political status. in addition, congress has held at least 12 hearings and four measures have received either house or senate action. during the last congress, the bush administration issued the president task force to report on puerto rico's status which served as the basis for the legislation before us today. a task force, i would point out,
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that was initiated by the clinton administration and concluded by the bush administration. indeed the entire exercise has been bipartisan. the measure before us today is sponsored by the resident commissioner from puerto rico, a democrat. it is strongly supported by our former colleague and current governor of puerto rico, a republican. and it was reported out of our natural resources committee by vote of 30-8. with this history before us, i join those who say it is time for congress to provide the people of puerto rico with an unambiguous path toward permanently resolving this permanent status that is consist ebt with the u.s. constitution -- consistent with the u.s. constitution. when our committee on natural resources considered similar legislation in the last congress we exhaustively examined the question of the constitutionality of the various status options available under the constitution. and we continued that process during the current congress. what emerged from that process
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was a clear consensus that settled on the permanent status options that are reflected in the bill before this body today. the resident commissioner from puerto rico is to be congratulated for carefully crafting a bill which seeks to authorize a fair, impartial and democratic process for self-determination for the people of puerto rico. the pending measure is straight forward, it authorizes in which the two voting options are presented. number one, present political status or, number two, a different political status. if option two prevails, then a second would be conducted in which three options are presented. independents, free association with the united states or statehood. puerto rico would then certify the results to the president and the congress. let me be clear, let me be very clear on this point. nothing in this legislation
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prejudges the results of these plebiscites. nothing prejudges that. in voting for this legislation -- and voting for this legislation does not, does not constitute a vote for the status quo, statehood, independence or free association. the bill is about a process, a process. and depending on what occurs during that process, it will be up to a future congress to ultimately decide puerto rico's status. with that, mr. chairman, i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from washington state is recognized. mr. hastings: mr. speaker, i yield myself as of time as i may consume -- as much time as i may consume. before i begin my remarks, i am getting requests for time on the floor from a number of members and there simply is not enough time allocated by the rule. so, mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that each person that is
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alkited time get an additional 15 minutes -- allocated time get an additional 15 minutes. the chair: the chair cannot entertain that request in the committee of the whole. mr. hastings: thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, i rise today in opposition to this bill. it strongly deviates from the procedures followed by other states to seek statehood and it leaves numerous questions about the implications of statehood unanswered in this particular case. h.r. 2499 is the wrong way to go about achieving statehood and breaks from the precedence set, as i mentioned, by other states and most recently those states that we entered into the union in the last century, alaska and hawaii. both of these states conducted their own vote on the question of statehood. when a strong majority voted in favor of statehood in each of these cases, it was only then that they went to the congress asking them to respond to that
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vote. this bill, as the process -- this bill has the process entirely backward. this bill is a bill asking puerto rico if it wants to be a state, not the other way around. this is a dramatic departure from the long established precedence of how other states start and sought emission into the union. this bill has congress as a result blessing statehood before puerto rico even votes to express their will. rather than receiving a request of statehood for the strong majority of the people of puerto rico through a vote, this request has congress soliciting puerto ricans on the request of statehood. now, mr. speaker, let me be very clear. i am sympathetic to the people of puerto rico having their right and ability to vote their own political future. but this bill is not -- and i want to repeat -- not the only
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way it can happen. in fact, this bill is not necessary for puerto rico to hold a self-determining vote. puerto rico can hold such a vote right now, today, without any action of congress. and they've done it three times in the past. furthermore, congress is asking puerto rico who wishes to be a state without a clear understanding of the complications of statehood and the conditions that would be required to join the union. first, there is a question of what statehood would cost the u.s. taxpayers in increased federal spending. now, we really don't know the answer to that, but we do think it is higher. and the reason for that is we asked c.b.o., the congressional budget office, for information on that and they have not provided an up-to-date analysis of the cost of statehood. so in an effort to somehow quantify the cost, my committee
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staff conducted research. on 10 programs would cost an estimated $4.5 billion to $7.5 billion per year. now, that's only 10 programs. you put all the other costs together, you can imagine it may be higher than that. so before voting on this bill, i think members ought to know if there is a cost and what that cost would be. this information could be calculated but it is not being done. without this information, in my view, h.r. 2499 should not be passed. sect, mr. chairman, there is a question of reapportioning house seats. according to c.r.s., based on a population of approximately four million people, if puerto rico would become a state, it would be entitled to two senate seats and six seats in the u.s. house of representatives.
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without increasing the size, 435 members of the house, states could lose an existing seat or not receive an additional seat after the 2010 census. again, this is according to c.r.s. those states, by the way, mr. chairman, include arizona, missouri, new york, south carolina, texas and my home state of washington. the public deserves to know whether their state would lose representation to provide six of 435 house seats to puerto rico or whether the proposed solution is that the nation needs more members of congress. in other words, increase the number of members from 435 to 4 41. finally, mr. chairman, there is the question of whether english should be an official language of puerto rico. when a similar bill was debated in the house in 1998, an amendment on the issue of english as an official language
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was allowed to be offered on the floor of this house and allowed to be debated. unfortunately, this time the democrat majority has blocked direct amendment on this issue. currently both spanish and english are the official language of puerto rico. however, as a practical matter, puerto rico is predominantly spanish speaking. spanish is used in the state legislature, local courts, businesses and in schools. now, during our history, the matter of english language was addressed during the mission of other states into the union, and those states include arizona, louisiana, oklahoma and new mexico. so i think it's only fair and appropriate to address and debate the issue of the official language in regard to statehood for puerto rico. so, mr. chairman, we should not move forward with this bill until there are answers to those three issues, at least,
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that i brought up. i think it would be more fair and more responsible to the residents and the 50 states and the people if we had answers to those questions before and the conditions of statehood rather than doing it before we have even gotten to that point. so for those reasons, mr. chairman, to vote no on this bill and i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from washington state reserves the balance of his time. the gentlewoman from new york is recognized. ms. velazquez: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. let me just say that the gentleman from west virginia, my colleague and friend, the chairman of the natural resources, is right. this is, mr. chairman, about process. this is a long process.
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not only was this bill drafted unilaterally, but it was prepared in a bias manner with a predetermined outcome in mind. let us be clear, this legislation is designed to quash the statehood agenda regardless of whether that agenda is the best solution for the island or even the people. the chairman of the natural resources committee also mentions that four plebiscites have been held in puerto rico. yes, he's correct. and in the past three plebiscites, the men and women of puerto rico have consistently voted in favor of commonwealth, status and against statehood. i tell you this legislation has no business being on the floor today. it raises a host of questions.
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it has zero probability of becoming law. however, it does place members in the awkward position explaining why they are meddling in puerto rico when a request from puerto rico has not even been made. there are economic issues that we must address first. the president has ordered his white house task force on puerto rico to advise him and congress on policies and initiatives that promote job creation, education, clean energy and health care. instead of dealing first with the very real concerns of how the people of puerto rico survive day by day, we are telling them our priority is to debate a status bill that will not become law. this is a disgrace. it is baffling that the statehood question, which lost
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in 1967, 1993, and again in 1998 is now allowed to skim its way to victory. it is urging that the house co-sponsored a bill that will push for another electoral process except this time the proposal that was previously rejected is being put in a privileged position. those who drafted this legislation will exclude commonwealth status in the plebiscite by developing a shell game with a first-round process to legitimize it. the process that enabled the creation of the commonwealth was adopted by congress. the puerto rico constitution was ratified by congress, and this form of government has been upheld by our u.s. courts.
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that is why it's so appalling, shameful that the people of puerto rico will be denied this option. no matter how much statehood supporters complain about commonwealth, it's the law of the land. congress should not be in the business of picking winners and losers for this kind of research da. it is -- referendum. it is not our job that would enable statehood to win a popular vote in puerto rico. becoming a state of the union is something that people must embrace knowingly, voluntarily and openly. if the people of puerto rico want to become a state, the statehood option should stand on its own. why are you so afraid? there should -- it should not
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be hidden behind politics. you will think that a public hearing could have been convened to listen to their views, but, no, the committee on natural resources and this congress know better than the people of puerto rico. it is, after all, their future that is at stake. it is an outrage that a congressional hearing on the status issue has not been held in puerto rico since the 1990's. as many know, i have advocated for a constitutional convention to begin the process of determining puerto rico's status. certainly, this is not the only option for going forward but a sham of a process is definitely not a valid democratic option for choosing puerto rico's
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future. mr. chairman, the concept of self-determination is fundamental to democracy. sadly, h.r. 2499 turns its back on this very principle. we must not allow politics to undermine our democratic values nor be swayed that arguments makes nothing. if you truly want to honor the contributions of puerto ricans and the fabric of the puerto rican community, vote no on this bill. stand up for what is truly right. choose principles over politics. let puerto ricans decide their own destiny without undue congressional demands. vote no on h.r. 2499. i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlewoman reserves the balance of her time.
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the gentleman from west virginia is recognized. mr. rahall: mr. chairman, i yield myself two minutes. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. rahall: mr. chairman, a couple claims have been made by previous speakers about why not have a direct vote on statehood , yes or no, like hawaii and alaska did. and i think it's worth clarifying here because those states were already incorporated territories and the representative from alaska can speak to this better than i can, meaning it was constitutionally clear that they would eventually become states, puerto rico is unincorporated. meaning, it can become a nation as well as a state. the plebiscites will determine if puerto ricans want to have statehood. some free association with the u.s., such as the u.s. has with palau and two other areas. and it's unclear what the
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second largest group of puerto ricans, those who vote for the commonwealth party, want among the real options of continued territory status, free association, independence and statehood. another claim that my ranking member and good friend, mr. hastings, made was that the congress of the united states would be reduced in seats if puerto rico were granted statehood. and i'm going to quote directly from a c.r.s. report that was done on this issue when it said that new states usually resulted in additions to the size of the house of representatives in the 19th and early 20th century. the exception to this general rule occurred when states were formed from other states, maine, kentucky, and my home state of west virginia, as i referenced already. these states representatives came from the allocation of representatives from the states from which the new ones had been formed. so i don't think the assertion that the number of members of
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congress in its totality would be reduced with the addition, if that were to be the outcome of puerto rico being a state were to occur. the chair: the time of the gentleman -- mr. rahall: mr. chairman, i now yield two minutes to the gentleman from puerto rico. oh, i'm sorry. five minutes to mr. pierluisi, the sponsor of this resolution and truly the driving force. the chair: the gentleman from puerto rico is recognized for five minutes. mr. pierluisi: mr. chairman, i rise in representation of the people of puerto rico. in fact, i am the only elected representative of the people of puerto rico in this congress. in such capacity, i introduced h.r. 2499, and i've heard some complaints about process.
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both the process here in this congress as well as the process that this bill provides for to happen in puerto rico. the process in this congress is crystal clear. i introduced the bill along with a record number of original co-sponsors. when we compare it with any previous bill relating to the status of puerto rico, about a month later the committee of jurisdiction, the committee on natural resources held a public hearing in which all political leaders of puerto rico were able to attend and testify before this congress. . a month later the bill was marked up like it should have been and it was amended, it was improved upon by the committee of jurisdiction. meetings have been held. it has been discussed widely in this congress as well as elsewhere. so the process in this congress
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have been fair and proper and it's about time we get a vote on it. talking about the bill itself, h.r. 2499 is simple and it is fair. it identifies the valid political status options for puerto rico and authorizes a congressionally sanctioned plebiscite process along those options. it shows the highest respect for the people of puerto rico by being candid with them about their real status choices. i have heard the word meddling. we are not meddling. we are assuming our responsibility, the relationship between puerto rico and the united states is bilateral in nature. for any change in the status of puerto rico to happen, two things must happen. the people of puerto rico must request it, the four million american citizens strong who live in puerto rico, and congress must grant it. congress is vested. it's incredible, indeed, that in 110 years that puerto rico has
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been a territory, congress has not even asked the four million american citizens living in puerto rico whether they want to remain under the current relationship, whether they want to continue having puerto rico as a territory of the united states. that is a fair question. it is the threshold question. the principal of our system is government by consensus, and the first plebiscite provided for in this bill informs congress whether a majority consents to an arrangement that denies the four million u.s. citizens the right to have a meaningful voice in making the laws that govern their lives. the latest example was health care reform. i worked harder than anybody else in this congress to get fair treatment for my people in puerto rico. and i got the support of my colleagues from new york of puerto rican origin, among others. but you know what? it wasn't good enough.
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we were not treated like our fellow american citizens. the treatment we got fell far short of that. if a majority of the people of puerto rico, though, do wish to continue living under this condition, we will abide by that and that's the first consultation that this bill provides for. however, if the majority of the people of puerto rico say to this congress that they do not wish to continue being a territory, then the bill provides for three, the only three nonterritorial options that we can offer or include in this plebiscite in accordance with both u.s. law and international law. those options are crystal clear. we don't need studies. we don't need to define them further than necessary. they are independence and free association and anybody concerned about the concept of free association.
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we have done it before. marshall islands, micronesia. those are free associated states with a relationship with the u.s. let's hear from the people of puerto rico. i want to speak plainly now. this bill has been unfairly characterized as a statehood bill. i am a strong proponent of statehood for puerto rico. yes, that's so. but this bill is not a statehood bill. that's one of the options. and it is not binding on this congress once we have the results, we will act accordingly. we will have discretion to deal with these results. residents of puerto rico have contributed so much to this country. our sons and daughters have served alongside their fellow citizens from the states on countless battlefields in europe, asia, and the middle east. during a late night patrol -- the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. mr. pier lee westy: i yield myself another minute. the speaker pro tempore: the
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gentleman is recognized for an additional minute. mr. pierluisi: soldiers from puerto rico, utah, georgia watched each other's backs any different culture or language mean nothing. i went to afghanistan recently to visit our troops in afghanistan. i know what we are talking about. what matters is that the flag on the uniform is the same. as i have said many times before i support statehood because i believe the people of puerto rico have earned that right should they choose to exercise it to become full and equal citizens of the united states. but this is not a statehood bill, and that's why with all due respect to the gentleman from washington state, we cross the bridge when we get to it. the time and day the majority people will request statehood, you'll have ample time to debate it, to deal with it, to impose a transition period, whatever this congress or future congress
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might want to do. i was selected to represent all of the people of puerto rico, including those whose vision for the island's future differs from my own. the intention of h.r. 2499 is to sponsor a fair process -- the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. mr. pierluisi: i yield 15 additional seconds. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. pierluisi: not to predetermine the outcome of that process. i have to say in the 21st century it is about time that this congress at the very least ask four million american citizens if they want to continue having the second class citizenship they are earning and having today. vote in support of h.r. 2499. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from washington state is recognized. mr. hastings: thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, i'm pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman from alaska, mr. young. the chair: the gentleman from alaska is recognized for two
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minutes. mr. young: i ask unanimous consent to address the house for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. -- i ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks. the chair: without objection. mr. young: mr. speaker, this is a rehash of 12 years ago. i want to compliment my delegate from puerto rico for representing his people. the governor supports this legislation. the senate supports this legislation. and the house supports this legislation. strongly. the puerto ricans that represent those people, their people, support this legislation. i think it's inappropriate for those that do not represent those people to speak out against this legislation. i think it's wrong not to recognize that this is long overdue. 112 years ago, 112 years ago puerto rico became puerto rico.
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they were supposed to be a state and i am the only member of this house that's gone through the statehood battles. this is not a statehood bill. as the delegate said this is an opportunity to make that decision. puerto rico is not a territory but a commonwealth. we were a territory. there's great deal of difference. we did make that decision with the help of congress and we became a state. and i'm proud of that. i was proud of this body. i'm a little disappointed in some of the arguments that i hear against this bill. this is a statehood bill. this is sneak attack. it was brought on us unexpectedly. this bill has been before this congress for 18 months and we discussed this issue for 12 years. and longer. my bill, as i call it, the young bill, was a statehood bill. that is the bill i would have preferred, but this is not. but this is what the governor wants, the delegate wants, the
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senate wants, and the house wants, and the people of puerto rico want. i think that's what we have to consider in this house. we are not the body as a whole, we are the body of the individual that represents the people. and i have argued this for many years because i am one as the delegate is. it is time that we -- i ask the gentleman yield me two additional minutes. mr. young: it's time we act on this legislation. let it go forward. let us do what is fair. and the arguments against this legislation, some of them are very frivolous, the english language. we didn't and we are not required to have english when we became a state. we had many different language when we became a state. we do speak english and other languages within my state. that doesn't hold us back or make us any less. but the idea we have four million people that waited for an opportunity to become a state, independent nation,
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whatever they wish the association, it is time we give them that opportunity to have a body that's supposed to represent all the people but individually represent an area we should recognize that right. as we did when we became a state. i'm proud the congress made us a state. we worked for that. i think it's time we get an opportunity for the puerto ricans to make a decision whether they are a state again or if they are a territory or whatever they want to be, but give them the opportunity, and again when that bridge -- again i can talk about bridges, ladies and gentlemen, when that bridge happens, we will cross it. as far as cost goes. but it's time we recognize the great people, the warriors of puerto rico, as they serve this country yet they can't vote for their commander in chief. this is the time to pass this legislation. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentlewoman from new york is recognized.
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ms. velazquez: mr. chairman, i would like to inquire how much time is remaining on each side? the chair: the gentlewoman from new york has 24 minutes remaining. the gentleman from puerto rico 14/1/4 minutes, and the gentleman from washington state has 22 minutes remaining. ms. velazquez: mr. chairman, i yield five minutes to the gentleman from new york. the chair: the gentleman from new york is recognized for five minutes. mr. rangel: thank you. i ask unanimous consent to revise and extend. let me thank the chair lady from new york for allowing me this time. let me share the great respect and admiration that i have for the gentleman from puerto rico.
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a hardworking man that there's no question in my mind and in his heart he want what is best for puerto rico and what is best for the united states of america. and i can say the same about his predecessor who is now has moved on to becoming governor. the only question that i have since i have a friend of puerto rico for 39 years, not just legislatively but in my heart i have felt the unfairness it is to call people citizens and yet to have acknowledge that when it comes to health care, education, jobs the only time that you can really know that puerto ricans are treated as americans are treated is when they are drafted or when they volunteer to serve this great country of ours and when it ends up, you will find, per capita, more people have died and wounded defending our flag from puerto rico than any state or any territory. so it just seems to me that
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something has to be done. it is so truly unfair to respect our flag and respect our citizens and to tell them that they can fight a war but they can't even vote for the president. and quite frankly, as far as the status is concerned, it has hurt me as an american that this has consumed the island. and for the first time in a couple of months i have heard about free association. i have more puerto ricans in my district in new york than probably in san juan. i never heard anyone talk about free association. i don't even know whether members of the congress know what free association is. as a matter of fact a couple of people asked me since i have been here who is our ambassador to puerto rico, anyway? and what is the exchange of currency? and to see what was happening on the rule it's clear to me on both sides of the aisle they want to know what is this all
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about? it's about the lives of four million people, that's what it's about. we should at least know what we are doing before we superimpose some ideas that we have on other people. i had an amendment, the rules committee rejected it, and all it did was adopt everything except what do the people have to choose from? statehood? you bet your life. they would be entitled to it. and no matter which way they work out the number of votes, even tom foley once told me when i thought statehood was really going to pass in puerto rico, i said, mr. speaker, how are we going to handle this question and the members? how are we going to handle the question of what parties these people are going to belong to? he said, forget it, charlie, the only time we are going to have statehood is when there's a mandate. we are not going to have a divided territory to become a state. that was a guy that told me that
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his background in history that he was an expert in this type of thing. so it just seems to me if we all accept, anyone who's known, visited, read about puerto rico that their biggest argument has been majorly those who want statehood, those who want commonwealth, and a smaller number who would like to have independence. which sounds great politically, but somehow internationally doesn't make a lot of sense. so what did my amendment do? it said that go to the polls. . say it you want commonwealth. say if you want statehood and say if you want independence and say, not right now, let me breathe. if we don't know what statehood is how would we expect them to know? when i asked these questions someone said, oh, no, they would have rejected commonwealth.
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well, i think some of us on this floor if we were asked if we like the status in the united states, i think some of us would say on the other side that they don't like the status. well, if i was in the minority i wouldn't like the status either, but the truth of the matter is it doesn't mean you want to get rid of it all. it may mean i don't like the status as it is. i would like to change it. i would like to have it improved. i would like to improve education. i would like to make certain that the expenses that mr. hasting talks about in terms of programs that are designed to help american citizens that they would get them. what price does it take to give your life for your flag and find out how much it's going to cost to give them the things that americans would want? so my problem is that commonwealth doesn't get a chance. they're called existing government, which i don't really think means rejection of status because there's a lot of
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romance and emotion that's involved in puerto rico. so give them the opportunity to say, commonwealth -- the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. mr. rangel: but we don't need free association when anyone here knows, especially those in puerto rico, what does it really mean. the chair: the gentleman from puerto rico is recognized. mr. pierluisi: i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from washington state is recognized. mr. hastings: mr. speaker, i'm pleased to yield one minute to the gentleman from utah, and i understand, mr. chairman, that he gets a minute from the gentlelady from new york. the chair: the gentleman from utah is recognized. for one minute. mr. hastings: mr. chairman, i understand the gentlelady is going to yield him a minute so he's going to be recognized two minutes. ms. velazquez: mr. chairman, that's correct. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. chafechafe the united states congress -- mr. chaffetz: the
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united states congress dictating to the people of puerto rico about this vote is ironic. there's no need for the united states congress to pass this bill. no need. four times, in 1952, in 1967, in 1993, in 1998, the people of puerto rico were able to vote on this. they didn't need the approve of the united states congress to do it. they don't need it today. but it's a manipulation of the process to try to get a desired outcome. if you want to vote on statehood, take a straight vote. do the people of puerto rico, yes or no, do the people of puerto rico want statehood? simple, straightforward, to the point, and let's understand if that's truly what they want. i'm a conservative person. i do not believe that i should be trying to manipulate what's happening in puerto rico and what they want. and finally, i will add -- i will end with this. please, as you consider this bill, understand that you are empowering people to vote on this election that has no business voting in this election. if you are born in puerto rico,
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you live there two months and then you suddenly move to the united states and you lived here for the last 30, 40 years, you get to vote in this election. why should the resident of somebody in utah or indiana vote in the election in puerto rico? that is fundamentally wrong and it's there because they want to manipulate the end result. this is about puerto rico and the votes should be taken in puerto rico by the people of puerto rico if the people of puerto rico choose to do so. and not because the heavy hand of the united states congress. i urge my colleagues to vote no and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. who seeks recognition? the gentlewoman from new york is recognized. ms. velazquez: mr. chairman, i yield to the gentleman from illinois, mr. gutierrez, for 10 minutes. the chair: the gentleman from illinois is recognized for 10 minutes. mr. gutierrez: thank you very much. i thank the gentlelady. look, this is the puerto rico
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51st state bill. it's the only result that you can possibly expect. the deck is stacked. we all know. i was talking to my friends on the other side and you know what they keep saying to me? why are you against statehood? everywhere i go, why are you against statehood? they don't say, why are you against the people of puerto rico having a free vote in determining their future and in exercising their right to self-determination. why do we come here and try to like hoodwink one another, fool one another? you know what i would want to see on the house floor, the same honesty and clarity and transparency that exist when people come up to me and ask me why i am against statehood for puerto rico. that is not why i am up here. i am against a process that does not allow the people of
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puerto rico to exercise their sovereign right to determine their future in a free manner. now, what does that mean? everybody says, well, there are four million american citizens in puerto rico. have they ever considered one thing, that the proponents of statehood, the proponents of statehood have never said that the puerto rico olympic team must be part of the u.s. olympic team? have you ever thought about that contradiction that exists? i'm happy to have statehood with a puerto rican olympic team and would support such a statehood. but does the congress support such a statehood? the fact is that the gentleman from puerto rico, who is doing a wonderful job on this bill, knows and understands that the language that is used in puerto rico is the spanish language, it's the language of government, it's the language of commerce, it's the language of industry, it's the language of the court, it is the common language of the people of
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puerto rico. and you know what, i'd love to see the 51st state with a majority of people having spanish as their primary language. but do you not think that congress of the united states should consider such a fact? and the reason i put this to you is because they keep saying , remember those words, right, mandated by the congress, this is a plab site mandated by the congress. -- plebiscite mandated by the congress. so what they're going to do is have a plebiscite mandated by the congress. they are going to have a congress where independence gets to be defined and the only one that we define is the relevant status in puerto rico. i just want to go one minute so that we can see how absurd. now it says here. it says sovereignty in
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association with the united states, a political relationship between sovereign nations, not subject to the territorial cause of the united states constitution. you don't think that's going to confuse some people? now, let's think about it for a moment. what does this mean? ok. so i guess at this point what the congress of the united states is saying that if this is the winner, this is the winner, puerto rico's sovereign, it means puerto rico's independent. does the f.b.i. got to go? does the i.r.s. go that day? no. seriously. who controls immigration in and out of puerto rico? who controls the ports? the government is going to stop sending them social security checks? does medicare and medicaid, they suspend it? i mean, think about it one moment. what is it that occurs at that moment? i would love to see a relationship between the united states and puerto rico or puerto rico as an independent,
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sovereign nation. that is my pleef. but ladies and gentlemen, i will not impose my beliefs on the people of puerto rico. the people of puerto rico, as the gentleman from utah referred to earlier, they said no. they said no. they said no. how many times do we have to say no, do not impose a result that the people of puerto rico have rejected freely and which they can constitute? the last time there was a plebiscite in puerto rico in 1998, do you know what option one, this option beat statehood, none of the above. >> does the gentleman yield? mr. gutierrez: i yield to the gentleman. mr. hastings: that's a reason why i had a problem with this procedure and i did not mention the option that you talked about association. i just wonder if the gentleman
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knows or maybe can help me. where did that come from? mr. gutierrez: you know, i'm kind of like mr. rangel. i mean, this definition is a new definition. now, i will tell you this. the gentleman from puerto rico represents the statehood party in puerto rico. he came down here and he defined his own status or lack of definition of his own status gives him. but then you know the next thing he did, he defined the opposition status. you know, that reminds me kind of like barack obama going to john mccain during the election saying, tell you what, why don't you tell me what my platform is write it for me and that's what i'm going to run on later on? you cannot allow this to happen because this is not a democratic process. the result is already. let me just say with the gentleman that senator wicker, and i'm going to ask that a statement be included in the
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record at the appropriate moment, has just issued a statement from the other body saying he's going to oppose this measure. and the futility of what we do here today, they are already telling us that they are going to oppose this and there is no companion bill. does the gentleman have any further questions? mr. hastings: no. this is a point because my argument was, and i always stated three other issues, we ought to know what we are doing because it has been suggested that this is not a statehood bill. but i have responded to at least that remark by saying it may not be a strict statehood bill but it certainly, certainly gives blessing to an outcome on which we don't know what that outcome is. and if it becomes the association, then what do we do? i just want to say i think the gentleman makes a good point. because the bottom line in all of this is that there are too many unanswered questions on a process where we are blessing
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an outcome to make a determination on whether we should have another -- add to our union the 51st state. i think that's serious and i appreciate the gentleman for yielding. thank you. mr. gutierrez: well, you know, this is what i think we genuinely need, but let me just add further. there has been much said about the importance of american citizenship and there are many puerto ricans that cherish their american citizenship and have fought for their american citizenship. but if you got four million american citizens and they don't want to incorporate as a state, shouldn't we respect that? it is almost -- here's the logic. they are american citizens, therefore, they deserve statehood. they are american citizens, therefore, they own the finality of it all, the justice of it all, right? the correct course of it all is to grant them statehood. i think if they wanted independence tomorrow and they are citizens of the united states -- and let me just say,
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it seems to me that george washington, thomas jefferson were all subjects of the key and they got up and said we want to be free. they didn't quite agree with them, but that can also be an option for american citizens. and you know what, think about it for a moment. maybe these four million american citizens don't want to become a state because they love their language, because they love their culture, because they love rooting for their olympic team. because so many miss universes comes from puerto rico. maybe that's what they want. shouldn't we respect that decision? gentleman, i will -- >> it seems to me that this is opposite of self-determination. it would allow the people of puerto rico to determine whether or not to have a
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referendum, a plebiscite. mr. smith: maybe it's a straightforward question three or four times in the past. but to have congress mandate what the people of puerto rico have to do, that they have to have a plebiscite, that they have to have these questions on the ballot. it seems to me that that's the opposite of self-determination. in fact, it's what you said, a congressional mandate. is that how you see it? mr. gutierrez: i do. i see it as a congressional mandate. and you know what, we should not mandate statehood on citizens, organized by the united states of america, in incorporated or unincorporated territory, under or outside the territorial clause of the constitution of the united states should together in a vast majority, i believe -- because, listen, this is like my wife coming up to me saying, you know, i go and i ask, will you marry me and she kind of hesitates and says, how about if i'm loyal 50% of the time? how about 60% of the time?
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how about if we condition this relationship? come on. that's what we're talking about here. we had a civil war to decide this, ladies and gentlemen. once a state, always a state. be careful what you wish for. the chair: the time of the gentleman has expired. . the gentleman from puerto rico is recognized. mr. pierluisi: i yield one minute to the gentlelady from guam. the chair: the gentlewoman from guam is recognized for one minute. miss bordello: -- ms. bordallo: i rise in support of h.r. 2499. as the chairwoman of the subcommittee on insular affairs, oceans, and wildlife i fully support this bill which the full natural resources committee reported out favorably on july 22 of last year. h.r. 2499 is an important bill for puerto rico and the other u.s. territories. as a delegate from guam i
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understand the desire of residents in the territories to decide their future and make a determination about their political future. unlike other speakers here this afternoon, we on guam are also in this same process of trying to determine our status. h.r. 2499 will provide the people of puerto rico a congressionally sanctioned process to express their reference regarding their political status. each territory, mr. chairman, is on a different path toward self-determination and what is appropriate for puerto rico may not be suitable for other territories. but i firmly believe that the process established by h.r. 2499 is the best way and i urge my colleagues to vote yes. the chair: the gentlelady's time has expired. the gentleman from washington state. mr. hastings: thank you, mr. speaker. mr. chairman, i'm pleased to yield one minute to the gentleman from indiana. i understand the gentleman from puerto rico will yield him a
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minute. the chair: the gentleman from indiana is recognized for two minutes. mr. burton: you know, mr. speaker, this is so muddied up i don't know that anybody who is paying attention really understands what's going on. this is just a process. that's all it is. the people who are going to decide whether or not any territory becomes a state is this body and the senate. but what we are asking for is a recommendation from the people of puerto rico. they are dying for this country. more have died percentagewise in conflicts than any state in the union. and their governor wants this plebiscite. their representative wants this plebiscite. their state senate wants this plebiscite. and the state house of representatives wants this plebiscite.
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they know what this bill is. they come and they have testified before the resources committee. they know. and they represent the people of puerto rico. so these people coming down here from new york and every place else, they don't know. they don't know what they are talking about. the people -- no, i will not yield. ms. velazquez: i am not asking that. the people in the gallery should not be applauding. the chair: the gentleman will suspend. the chair are remind all persons in the gallery that they are here as guests of the house and that any manifestation of approval or disapproval of proceedings or other audible conversation is in violation of the rules of the house. the gentleman may continue. mr. burton: the people who want to have this determination made are the people of puerto rico and their elected representatives all together say let's have this bill passed. and yet people from new york and from washington -- i don't know how close the state of
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washington is to puerto rico, but it's about 4,000 miles, maybe 5,000. and new york's quite a ways away. why don't we listen to what the elected representatives of puerto rico want? and it's the democrat and republican. this is not a partisan issue. so my view is let's let them have the plebiscite. let's come up with a process that will work. we tried this before and it's been been split up all over the place. this process will work. it will boil it down to what the people of puerto rico really want. and i believe they want statehood and we ought to let them determine that. if their representatives want it, if their governor wants it, if everybody else wants it, and if they are sacrificing their lives for this country, then by gosh we ought to give them a chance to be a state. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentlewoman from new york is recognized. ms. velazquez: mr. chairman, may i inquire how much time is left? the chair: the gentlewoman from new york has 8 1/2 minutes remaining. the gentleman from puerto rico
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has 12 1/4 minutes remaining. and the gentleman from washington state has 20 minutes. ms. velazquez: i reserve. the chair: the gentlewoman reserves. the gentleman from puerto rico is recognized. mr. pierluisi: i yield two minutes to the gentleman from california. the chair: the gentleman from california is recognized for two minutes. mr. miller: i thank the gentleman for yielding. mr. speaker, i rise in support of h.r. 2499, the puerto rico democracy act introduced by our colleague, mr. pierluisi. many of us in the natural resources committee, including myself, mr. rahall, and mr. young have been grappling with this issue of political status of puerto rico for decades and we each have scars to prove it. we have held numerous hearings over the years in washington and puerto rico. we have listened to the representatives of not only the political party but the citizens of puerto rico. we have heard testimony from across the spectrum, including the representative of each of the political parties n light of all that experience i am convinced that congress must provide the people of puerto
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rico the opportunity to voice their preferences. that's what today's legislation would do, a fair opportunity for self-determination process. puerto rico has been a territory for 112 years and has been an important part of this country in peacetime and war. four million residents of puerto rico are american citizens and they are bound by federal law. and yet congress has never asked puerto ricans to officially express their views on the island's political status. this legislation does not bind future congresses. h.r. 2499 doesn't require the federal government to create a puerto rican state, nor does it force us to work toward puerto rican independence. this bill simply asks the citizens of puerto rico whether they want to remain a u.s. territory and current status or whether they would prefer another political status. if it turns out they favor another political status, another vote would then be authorized to determine which status option they prefer. considering the context and history wrapped number this issue, this legislation is as
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fair as you can possibly expect. and i would hope that this house would respond by passing this legislation and sending the message to the people of puerto rico that congress would welcome their telling us what they prefer their status to be. that's the choice that they will make in a free and open process and they can proceed to the second question or not. but we will then have them and we will have asked them instead of what we have seen in the past of people scrambling depending upon political advantage in puerto rico one particular time trying to rush to get a vote or statement or plebiscite. this is a process that's set out. it's fair. we should support it. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from washington state is recognized. mr. hastings: thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, i'm pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman from california -- one minute to the gentleman from california, mr. mcclintock. the chair: the gentleman from california is recognized for one minute. mr. mcclintock: i thank the gentleman for yielding. mr. speaker, the proponents have a problem. they want statehood for puerto rico but the people of puerto
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rico keep voting no. what to do? well, they replace a straightforward up or down vote with a very clever two-step process. if 40% support the commonwealth and only 20% favor each of three alternatives, the overwhelming plurerality is defeated on the first ballot and they are left only to choose among three options, none of which they support. and then just to be sure, proponents stuff the ballot box by letting nonpuerto ricans vote just as long as they were born there. that means that as a californian i should be entitled to vote in new york's elections because i was born there. this bill isn't needed for a referendum. puerto rico can do that on its own. the purpose of this bill is to imply congressional support of this rigged election process that has no legal effect, that has surrendered any more validity, and promises only to set off bitter divisions within
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the commonwealth of puerto rico. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from washington state is recognized. mr. hastings: thank you, mr. chairman. i am pleased to yield two minutes to the gentlelady from florida, ms. ros-lehtinen. the chair: the gentlewoman from florida is recognized for two minutes. ms. ros-lehtinen: thank you, mr. chairman. i thank my good friend from washington for the time. i rise in strong support of h.r. 2499, the puerto rico democracy act. this bill will provide the congressionally sanctioned proses is by which u.s. citizens of -- process by which u.s. citizens of puerto rico can determine their preferences regarding the territory as -- territory's political status. this is not a bill to admit puerto rico as the 51st state. this bill instead would enable puerto ricans to determine their status reference by presenting all of the options possible under the law. they would be presented through a series of votes. in the first plebiscite voters will decide if they want a
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continuation of the current status or to change status. if voters decide to change status, a second plebiscite will be held on the three viable options for change -- independent, statehood, or preassociation with the u.s. the puerto rico democracy act does not include the misguided enhanced commonwealth option. an enhanced commonwealth as envisioned by the bill's critics perpetuates the false hope that puerto ricans can have the best of both worlds. they can have u.s. citizenship and national sovereignty. they can receive generous federal funding and have the power to veto those laws with which it disagrees. if included as a viable option and enhanced commonwealth proposal would permanently empower puerto rico to nullify federal laws and port jurisdiction. an enhanced commonwealth option would also set the stage for puerto rico to enter into international organizations and
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trade agreements, all while being under the military and financial protection of the united states. it is no surprise that this proposal has been soundly rejected as a viable option by the u.s. department of justice, the state department, the clinton administration, and the bush administration. it is time that the people of puerto rico are given real options for the future political status of their homeland and not false promises. therefore, mr. chairman, i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill before us today. thank you. i thank the gentleman. the chair: the gentlelady's time has expired. the gentleman from washington state is recognized. mr. hastings: thank you, mr. speaker. mr. chairman, i'm very pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman from texas, mr. smith. the chair: the gentleman from texas is recognized for two minutes. mr. smith: mr. chairman, first ever all i thank the ranking member of the committee and the gentleman from washington state for yielding. mr. chairman, there are at least three reasons to oppose this bill, any one of which should be persuasive. first, it rigs a proposed new
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referendum to force puerto ricans to choose what they have voted against four times in the past -- statehood. it does not provide puerto rican was a fair straightforward way to choose among statehood, independence, and remaining a commonwealth. the bill also allows u.s. citizens who are natives of puerto rico to vote in the referendum even if they now live in the united states. second, the poverty rate in puerto rico is almost 45%. twice that of our poorest state, mississippi. the congressional budget office estimated in 1990 that if puerto rico were to become a state, federal entitlement and welfare costs for puerto rico would jump by 143% and that was 20 years ago. if puerto rico does become a state, the additional cost to american taxpayers of government benefits are likely to be in the tens of billions of dollars. but no cost analysis has been
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released. one can only guess why. third, let's acknowledge that to some this bill is a democratic power play. the pew hispanic center reported in 2008 that 61% of puerto rican registered voters were democrats, 11% were republicans, and 24% were independents. mr. chairman, i urge my colleagues to oppose this bill for any or all of these reasons. i yield back the balance of my time. to the gentleman from washington state. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. who seeks recognition? the gentleman from washington state is recognized. mr. hastings: thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, i'm pleased to yield three minutes to the republican conference chairman, mr. pence. the chair: the gentleman from indiana is recognized for three minutes. mr. pence: i ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks. the chair: without objection. mr. pence: thank you. i thank the gentleman for yielding. i rise in support of the puerto rico democracy act. it simprae ople of puerto rico a say in their
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future. first, a little history lesson. the american flag is flown over puerto rico for more than a century. it's been a u.s. territory since 1898. people of puerto rico have been citizens of the united states since 1917. citizens born in puerto rico are natural born u.s. citizens, bound by federal law they pay federal payroll taxes. they are even eligible to be elected president. american citizens from puerto rico have been drafted into military service during world war ii and every war ever since. five medal of honor winners from puerto rico. 65,034 puerto ricans served in world war ii alone. it's been an enormous contribution to the life of this nation by these american citizens. as a conservative who believes in the power of self-determination and individual liberty, i believe the four million american citizens in the commonwealth of puerto rico should be able to voice their opinion about puerto
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rico's relationship to the united states, although the ultimate determination of that fate rests with this congress. and i'm pleased to stand in a long line of republicans who have taken that view. every republican president for the last 50 years has been committed to self-determination and democracy for the american citizens in puerto rico. and in 1982 president ronald reagan said, and i quote, puerto ricans have borne the responsibilities ofs us citizenship with honor and courage for more than 64 years. they fought beside us for decades. they worked beside us for generations. he also added, puerto rico's strong doctor contiguous of democracy provides leadership and stability in the caribbean, and i agree. if the american citizens of puerto rico choose independence, i will support that vote. . if the american citizens of puerto rico choose statehood, i will support that vote. and i'm equally confident that this congress will resolve
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taxation, responsibility of individuals and the need of english to be an official language prior to any offering. puerto ricans fought and bled to spread democracy and the right of self-determination. it seems to me that it would be at the height of hypocrisy for this congress to deny the very same rights for which americans have fought all over this world to the american citizens of puerto rico. i know this is a difficult and a contentious debate and i hold in the highest regard my colleagues who take a different view. but for me president ronald reagan --, all freedom-loving americans, the time is come to adopt the puerto rico democracy act and begin the process of
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allowing the american citizens of puerto rico to determine what will be their destiny and we will determine it as well. i yield back. the chair: the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentlewoman from new york is recognized. ms. velazquez: yes. mr. hastings, i understand that one of your speakers will request time from me. can you recognize the speaker now? mr. hastings: thank you -- the chair: the gentleman from washington state is recognized. mr. hastings: thank you. mr. chairman, i'm pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman from tennessee, mr. duncan, and i understand the gentlelady is going to yield him one minute, so he'll have -- ms. velazquez: two minutes. mr. hastings: have a total of four minutes, then. the chair: the gentleman from tennessee is recognized for four minutes. mr. duncan: well, thank you very much, mr. speaker, and i rise in opposition to this bill and i would like to first of all thank the gentleman from washington state and the gentlelady from new york for yielding me this time.
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i've been to puerto rico three times, and the people there have treated me in a very kind way, as kind as any place as i've ever been. and i think that puerto rico is a wonderful place. i served with governor fortuno, the main proponent of this bill, and governor acevedo vila before him. but i oppose this bill. "the washington times" said in an editorial yesterday that this is a bad bill, written, quote, to stack the deck in favor of statehood for puerto rico. and that it, quote, actually tramples self-determination in favor of an underhanded political power grab, unquote. those aren't my words. those are the words of "the washington times." "the times" editorial said, quote, the bill is designed to unfairly make it harder for puerto rico to keep its current status as a territory with
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special benefits rather than as a state. the fairest way would have been to have a vote as they've done in the past and have a vote on this issue that -- with a simple, straightforward ballot with three choices -- statehood, commonwealth or independence. however, the proponents of this bill seem to know that the statehood option would not receive over half of the vote in a fair, simple, straightforward ballot. each time puerto rico has voted on this issue, less than half the people have voted for statehood. when alaska and hawaii were admitted to the union some 80% to 85% of those in those states voted for and wanted statehood. this is not the case in puerto rico. and i have serious reservations about making a territory a state with less than half the people really want that status. in addition, the last time this issue came up it was estimated that it would have an immediate impact of several billions of dollars on the federal budget.
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with the economy the way it is now, statehood pour puerto rico would be even more expensive today. as the previous pointed out, puerto rico could set up a vote on this anytime they wanted, but what they're doing with this bill, they want the statehood proponents want the congress to rig the election in favor of statehood. that's not the right way to do this, mr. speaker, and so i oppose this bill and for all these reasons i urge my colleagues to vote no on this bill and defeat the gimmicked process that we are dealing with here today. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentlewoman from new york is recognized. ms. velazquez: i reserve my time. the chair: the gentlewoman reserves the balance of her time. the gentleman from west virginia is recognized. mr. rahall: mr. chairman, i yield four minutes to the gentleman from new york, mr.er is ano. the chair: the gentleman from new york is recognized -- mr. rahall: mr. chairman, i
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yield four minutes to the gentleman from new york, mr. serrano. the chair: the gentleman from new york is recognized for four minutes. mr. serrano: this bill continues to -- if nothing else, the strength of it is that it begins a process. many people, when i've told them, many members, of what the bill doesn't do say to me, then, why do you support it? i support it because it begins a process. i support it because the first time in 112 years the people of puerto rico will have an opportunity to express themselves, to say what they wish. then we don't have to act on it. i suspect that we will. but we won't be imposing anything on anyone. another argument is that this bill forces statehood on puerto rico. but that argument is made by people who say there is no majority in support of statehood in puerto rico.
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therefore, people would be voting out of what, ignorance? well, i repeat what i've said all week, i grew up in new york. i never lived in puerto rico. puerto ricans from the age of about 10 or 12 know the status issue, discuss the status issue and base the status issue on a daily basis. it is the number one concern in the island. therefore, no one will vote nor statehood who doesn't believe in statehood. no one will vote for independence, force to vote for independence. no will will vote for but for the right thing to do. people say, why won't they do it on their own? because when they have done it on their own we have ignored it. and there is one other reason if you don't present it proper low. puerto rico did not invade the
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united states. the united states invaded puerto rico in 1998 and has held it. according to the constitution, it is up to the united states congress to dispose, if you will, of the territory or adjust the territorial status. we will ignore what they do. if we tell them to do something then it's part of a process again, that word of process. so it's our responsibility to tell them to hold this vote. now, if they hold a vote and they determine that they wish to become an independent nation, we will then be able to say, well, you asked for that with 45% of the vote. can you go back and take another vote and come back with 80%? samely if they vote for statehood we could say, no, you didn't come here asking for a certain amount, you have to go back. so my point is that this bill
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does not end the process. do you honestly believe, with all due respect for my colleagues on this side and those on this side who oppose the bill, that anybody would give anybody statehood based on the first simple vote? i can assure you that if statehood is ever to come to puerto rico there will be a vote to accept the results of puerto rico's vote. there will be a vote to grant statehood and then there will be a vote asking puerto ricoans on the vote of statehood. the process will take years. -- puerto ricans on the vote of statehood. the process will take years. what we are doing is we go overseas to fight for freedom and independence, for the ability to be free people, to make free choices. and yet we're going to say today that we won't allow four million american citizens to simply advise us on this choice ?
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that is a mistake. that truly is un-american. and what do we have to fear, that the territory may ask for a change in a status? it may choose not to do so. one very important point. people say that the commonwealth is defeated. no. in the first vote you can choose to remain a commonwealth. in the second vote you stop being a colony. vote for this bill. the chair: the time of the gentleman has expired. mr. rahall: i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from west virginia reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from washington state is recognized. mr. hastings: thank you, mr. chairman. i am pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman from california, mr. lungren. the chair: the gentleman from california is recognized for two minutes. mr. lungren: mr. speaker, there's an original co-sponsor of h.r. 2499, the puerto rico democracy act, i stand here proudly in support of this bill. i am somewhat surprised by some of the criticism registered here.
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i understand how we can have differences of opinion, but to suggest that somehow this undermines the authority of the congress of the united states or somehow is contrary to the constitution is just beyond the pail as i can say. this is, as the gentleman who just spoke before here, said an attempt to get an idea of how the people of puerto rico feel about this very important issue. they are american citizens. and people raised all sorts of scenarios about what may or may not happen. go back and look at how other states have been admitted in the union. ultimately, the decision is made by this congress. i remember reading about utah. utah wasn't accepted in the union until they changed the certain policy on marriage when they were a territory. extraordinary change that was required, but that was what happened. congress didn't supinely say --
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or lay down here and say, oh, yes, you said you want to be a state, therefore, we have no action. this is a way for us getting a measure of the sentiment of the people of puerto rico. i don't see why we should be upset about that. and i know there's some outside observers who have suggested that somehow this undermines the constitution, that somehow there is a plot. examine the history of tennessee. examine the history of the response of the congress. it is absolutely historically factual that the congress decides under what terms a new state will be formed and when and if we will accept a new state. >> will the gentleman yield? mr. lungren: i'm sorry. i only have two minutes here. if you have time to yield to me i'd be happy to answer the question. so all i'm saying, allow us to go forward, allow us to find
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out what the sentiment is. our good friend, luis fortuno, is not a friend who shows little respect for the constitution. pass this bill. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentlewoman from new york is recognized. ms. velazquez: i will yield myself such time as i may consume. so the gentleman didn't want to yield, and i just wanted to ask you a question. so basically listening to your argument, you are clearly stating that this is a statehood bill -- mr. lungren: excuse me, what kind of bill? ms. velazquez: a statehood bill? mr. lungren: no, no, no. ms. velazquez: reclaiming my time. mr. chairman, i'd like to inquire as to how much time i have left, each of the sides. the chair: the gentlewoman from new york has 7 1/2 minutes remaining. ms. velazquez: i'm sorry.
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7 1/2? the chair: yes. the gentleman from puerto rico has 6 1/4 minutes remaining. and the gentleman from washington state has 8 1/2 minutes remaining. ms. velazquez: i will inquire of the chairman -- the ranking member, i only have myself and one other speakers. how many other speakers? mr. hastings: i have several requests for time. ms. velazquez: i'll reserve, mr. speaker. the chair: the gentlelady reserves. the gentleman from washington state. the gentleman from puerto rico is recognized. mr. pierluisi: i yield to the gentleman from the northern mariana islands. the chair: the gentleman from the northern mariana islands is recognized. mr. sablan: just 35 years ago we went on a plebiscite called for an act of free political
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self-determination and went to the ballot and had one choice only, commonwealth. for us to say that congress can't give puerto rico the options it has under 2499 because it appears as if it's only statehood, we do this all the time, mr. chairman. we're not doing it now. we go to war trying to give people, you know, free will, freedom and yet we tell them freedom in association with the united states. the people of puerto rico, it took congress, it took 100 years of being part of the united states. only in the past 12 years has this discussion started. it's about time. let's put the question to the people of puerto rico. give them an option. they could choose statehood, they could choose to remain a commonwealth. let's pass h.r. 2499. and i urge my colleagues to support it. i yield back my time. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired.
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the gentleman from washington state is recognized. mr. hastings: mr. chairman, thank you very much. i'm pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman from iowa, mr. king. the chair: the gentleman from iowa is recognized for two minutes. mr. king: thank you, mr. chairman. i thank the gentleman from washington for yielding. and for leading on this issue. i just want to add to this discussion and deliberation that what really happens is here is that if should pass today -- if this should pass today, it sets up a momentum, it sets up a level of expectations and the sequence of events being the question that would go before the puerto ricans and those who were born in puerto rico that would live in any of the other 50 states, do you want to stay the same or stay the change? -- or change? the momentum washes over the dam and the next question that comes back is, now you can't be what you were before, now you have to decide between being an independent country or a free association, whatever that might be. or statehood. and when we get to this question of statehood, and i look at the standards that have been there
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in the past, i disagree with mr. young from alaska, i can go up there and english is the language that's used in government and business and everywhere you go, yes, every language you can imagine is spoken in every state. but the practice in puerto rico is spanish, not english. 85% of puerto ricans will self-profess that they're not proficient in english. they have very little understanding of english. i'd ask unanimous consent to introduce the into -- into the record the latin american herald tribune dated april 26 where the sex of education in puerto rico said, english is taught in puerto rico as if it were a foreign language and 85% aren't proficient in it. i ask unanimous consent on that. the chair: the gentleman's request will be determined by general rule. mr. king: ok. and then i also seek to introduce into the record a letter from u.s. english incorporated. among it is a statement i think is very important to consider in this body which says no state has ever been allowed to come into the union where it's core
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arguments of government operate in a -- its core parts of government operate in a foreign language. other states had those conditions. the chair: the gentleman's request will be considered by general rule. mr. king: i thank the chairman. i just want to make this point that, i wouldn't rise here today and take this position here today if, since 1917 or even the last 50 years, if the practice of education and government in puerto rico had been the unifying common language, we would be unified as a people. let's start that and have this discussion in a generation and i would yield back. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. who seeks recognition? the gentleman from washington state is recognized. mr. hastings: i inquire of my colleagues how many more speakers they have on their side, how many more, if i may, mr. chairman? ms. velazquez: i have two. mr. hastings: you have two. ok.
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mr. sablan: i have one speaker and then we'll close. mr. hastings: at this time, marriage, i'm pleased to yield to mr. cantor. the chair: the gentleman from virginia is recognized for three minutes. mr. cantor: thank you, mr. chairman. i thank the gentleman from washington. mr. chairman, for 93 years individuals born in puerto rico have been u.s. citizens. but puerto rico itself has been a commonwealth. and is neither state nor an independent political entity. it has, as ronald reagan once said, an unnatural status. it is part of our country but not entirely. separate from our country but not really. ronald reagan was motivated to support possible statehood for puerto rico in part because our communist enemies were at the time exploiting puerto rico's status to sew unrest in latin america by calling for an end to, quote, yankee imperialism. while the soviet union may no longer be with us, hugo chavez
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is attempting to sew the same unrest, calling for an end to u.s. imperialism in puerto rico. reagan said back in 1980 that we must be ready to demonstrate that the american idea can work in puerto rico. over the past two years, my friend, governor fortuno, has worked to do just that. the governor and others are actively working to increase economic opportunity by reducing the burden the government places on the people, introducing competition and choice to education, lowering taxes, restoring law and order and defending traditional values. listening to these achievements, i'm reminded that the great experiment begun by our founding fathers is not in its last days but instead is being constantly renewed as we work to expand what it means to live in a land of opportunity. our best export has always been our ideas and first and foremost
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amongst those ideas is the promise that limited government based on the consent of the governed, that respects the il-- inalienable rights given by god is the best hope for man on earth. these ideas have also served as a magnet, drawing all those who wish for a better life to our shores. the citizens of puerto rico share in this american inheritance. they share in our values and in their belief in the american dream. the citizens of puerto rico deserve the opportunity to speak to their aspirations for the future in a sanctioned bleb sight. if our -- plebiscite. if our drafting -- if i were drafting this bill, mr. chairman, i would draft it differently and while this legislation is far from perfect, i am motivated at the end of the day to support it by the belief that america's promise is not finite in terms of space or time. and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time.
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the gentlewoman from new york is recognized. ms. velazquez: mr. chairman, i yield the gentleman from illinois, mr. gutierrez, four minutes. the chair: the gentleman from illinois is recognized for four minutes. ms. velazquez: correct. the chair: four minutes. mr. gutierrez: thank you. look, let's take another look at it. mr. lungren came before us and on numerous occasions what did he say? allow puerto rico to become a state. just check his words. i mean, before that it was mr. burton from indiana. in other words they equate american citizenship with a fundamental inalienable right to statehood. there is only one right, inalienable right that the people of puerto rico has. it's to their independence. and the founding fathers that we like to talk so much about would agree with us here today. if thomas jefferson were here today he would say one thing, there is one and only one inalienable right of the people of puerto rico. something that can never be taken away from them and that's
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to that you are independence. and why do i bring this issue up today? i bring the issue up today so that we can understand that puerto rico is not just four million american citizens on an island. it is a culturally, it is a psychologically constituted geographically, linguistically constituted nation of people, puerto ricans. go to that nation of people today and while they may love and cherish america, which is actually a good thing, if you think about it today, a nation of people who love and cherish america, they still have fund -- are fundamentally puerto rican. ask them. has anybody been to a puerto rican parade in new york? go out there with american flags on the day that the puerto rican parade is, see how much money you make at the puerto rican day parade in new york or chicago. it's an ampleation of who we are -- affirmation of who we are. very different than the other
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parades in which you see many american flags. why is it we continue to affirm this? why is it that even those proponents of a statehood for puerto rico have not been able to banish the olympic teams? they dare not. why is they have not been able to banish the language of spanish? they dare not. because those are things that are intrinsic to the people of puerto rico. look, let's stop kidding ourselves. let's stop kidding ourselves. this is an attempt to do one thing and one thing only and everybody talks about the american citizens and their rights to statehood. what about the american citizens and i say the only inalienable right they have, to their independence? what about the 1.8 million pages that were sent to congressman serrano on the backs of the f.d.i. and intelligence agencies for those of us that fought for puerto rican independence? what about those who have been jailed, what about those great
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puerto rican patriots who believe and will continue to believe in independence for puerto rico he? that is a reality that we need to deal with. so when mr. cantor was speaking about the inalienable right, he was speaking about the inalienable right that the founding fathers bestowed upon those to be free from colonialism. the current situation in puerto rico is deplorable. the current status of puerto rico is a colonial status. and we should move forward to eliminate that stain in our relationship with the people of puerto rico. but they have just as much right to independence, they have just as much right to independence as they do to statehood. and as a matter of fact they have asserted that right. let me end with this. we keep saying, let them congressionally sanction. ladies and gentlemen, they have come together on numerous occasions and on each and every occasion they have said, we don't want to be a state. they like something different.
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why are we imposing? and really, look, everybody talks about the founding fathers, you now how the founding fathers did it? they had a constitutional convention. they got together and they had delegates from different states come together so they could have a declaration of independence, so they could build a constitution. you know what? let not the congress of the united states say that this is democracy. you know what tool democracy is? this -- true democracy is? this congress saying to the people of puerto rico, get together, assemble yourselves, decide amongst yourselves and we the congress of the united states will respect that decision. we will not impose a process, we will not impose definitions upon you. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from washington state is recognized. mr. hastings: mr. chairman, can i inquire again how much time is remaining on all three sides? the chair: the gentleman from washington state has four minutes. the gentleman from puerto rico
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has 5 1/4 and the gentlewoman from new york has three minutes. mr. hastings: can i also inquire, mr. chairman, how many speakers my colleagues have left? mr. sablan: i have one and then close. mr. hastings: and that is the close? mr. sablan: no, one. mr. hastings: so you have two. go ahead. ms. velazquez: i have myself to close. mr. hastings: are you closing. in that case, in that case, mr. chairman, i'll reserve my time and let my friend use his and then i will use mine over here. i have two speakers left including myself. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from puerto rico is recognized. mr. perlmutter: i yield two minutes to the gentleman from florida -- mr. pierluisi: i yield two minutes to the gentleman from florida. >> this legislation is about what is right and what is fair. since 1898 residents of puerto rico have been deprived of full and equal political representation. though its residents are
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american citizens the island is not a state and its residents have no equal voting representation in congress. given the choice, puerto ricans might opt to change the situation. mr. grayson: some in puerto rico might opt for statehood, some might opt for independence and a sovereign association. but puerto ricans have never been invited by congress to make that choice. they're american citizens but they are deprivinged of equal voting rights. if puerto rico were a state, it would have six or seven representatives in congress instead of one who cannot vote on the floor of the house. if puerto rico were a state, it would have two senators instead of none. if puerto rico were a state, the people there would help to choose our president. puerto rico is in fact one of the plargest populations in the entire world that has no say in choosing the leadership of its country on a democratic country. now they can do nothing like that. a host of policy decisions are made in puerto rico's name by us, by congress, and by the president, on behalf of puerto rico's people without their full
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or equal input or consent. and that is deeply, deeply unfair. whether puerto ricans decide in favor of statehood or not, there is an existing inequality that needs to be addressed. the people of puerto rico so could have more representatives in congress than they have today with or without statehood. while i do not represent puerto rico, there is a very large puerto rican population in central florida. but i'm also here because people on the island of puerto rico have the right to full and equal representation. under this legislation, voters will be asked by congress whether they wish to maintain puerto rico's present form. if a majority of voters cast their favor in part of a different political status, they'll be authorized to conduct a second vote among three options. residents of puerto rico have laid down their lives in defense of american democratic values for more than nine decades. in that time they have never been given a chance to express
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their views about their political relationship with the united states by means of a fair, neutral and democratic process. this must change. therefore i support this act. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from washington state is recognized. mr. hastings: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, i'm pleased to yield two minutes to the gentleman from texas, mr. gohmert. the chair: the gentleman from texas is recognized for two minutes. mr. gohmert: thank you, mr. speaker. having been elected in 2004 to come to congress, i got here and met someone else who was elected to come to congress at the same time named luis fortuno. the fortunos were a couple of the most wonderful, lovely people i've ever met and it's a real privilege to have gotten to know them. so my initial feeling is i would support whatever they supported, especially to have a republican governor in puerto rico. the things that he's doing are
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wonderful. you know, cutting government, working to reduce spending in puerto rico. those are the things we need leaders to help with in washington. but we are a people who came into being through a belief in self-determination. and so while initially hearing that puerto rico would have a vote that would allow them to decide whether they wanted to be part of the united states as a state, my initial impression was, this would be a good thing. but on sewing it's been divided into two votes and finding that there are three choices in the second vote -- but on seeing it's been divided into two votes and finding that there are three choices in the second vote, i am concerned. they should vote unequivocally and tell this body to do so unequivocally, there should be
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one question, do you want to be a state, yes or no, and if there is a loud answer, we do, then that's what we should take up. regretfully i will vote no on this because i think we should not decide a statehood's future like this. so thank you, mr. speaker. i'll be voting no. the chair: the gentleman from texas yields back the balance of his time. the gentlewoman from new york is recognized. ms. velazquez: mr. clarme, -- chairman, how much time do i have left? the chair: the gentlelady has three minutes remaining. mr. hastings: mr. chairman, i am the last speaker on this side. so i'll reserve. ms. velazquez: you are. and mr. rahall is prepared to close now? ok. yes, i understand. the chair: the gentlewoman from new york. ms. velazquez: i will yield as much time as i may consume. the chair: the gentlewoman is recognized. ms. velazquez: mr. speaker, mr. chairman, there is a reason why
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two of the three main political parties in puerto rico are opposed to this bill. i have been shut out -- and have been shut out of the legislative process. that's the reason. here we are facing one of the largest deficits in the history of this country because we have been paying two wars, where we are committed to promote democracy, and yet in our own back yard we are denying eight million puerto rico americans the right to self-determination. as i stated before and i'll say it again, this is shameful and it is a disgrace. so let me just say that this bill is not ready for primetime. let's treat puerto ricans with the same respect as we did to alaskans, hawaii and other
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states. they decide by themselves what was better for them. this bill doesn't do that. for all these reasons i ask my colleagues to vote no and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlewoman yields back. the gentleman from washington state is recognized. mr. hastings: mr. speaker -- mr. chairman, i yield myself the balance of the time. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. hastings: mr. speaker, as we conclude this general debate, i want to make one thing very clear and that point is that we in congress on a bipartisan basis welcome the citizens of puerto rico to communicate to us their wishes. but, mr. chairman, this is not the right process for that. i recognize this is not a vote
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on statehood. mr. chairman, we are setting a precedent where we are asking a territory of the united states if they want statehood. looking back in the history, i found it pretty murky whether that even happened. what happened generally and certainly in a vast majority of the 50 states that make up this great union is that they had a plebiscite and they decided they wanted to join this country and then they asked the congress to respond. we are doing this backwards. there has been three votes in the history in this last creptry of puerto ricans and in every case they did not choose statehood. i don't know why we should be part of a process that for my point of view tilts the playing field in favor of statehood when in the past that hasn't been the case. the citizens of puerto rico right now, as i made my opening
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remarks, can have a plebiscite. they can decide. they can decide by a statewide vote. they can have a constitutional convention, as my good friend from illinois pointed out. there are a variety of ways for them to do that we should allow them to do that. it's difficult. it's a difficult process. we all know that. self-government is hard, but for goodness sakes, we shouldn't be party to what i believe is the process that is synced in one way. for that reason, mr. chairman, i am going to vote no on this legislation and i'd urge my colleagues to do the same and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from west virginia is recognized. mr. rahall: mr. chairman, i'm honored to yield the balance of my time to the people's representative from puerto rico, mr. pedro pierluisi. the chair: the gentleman from puerto rico is recognized.
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mr. pierluisi: it is time. it is time for this congress to hear from the people of puerto rico. a lot has been said about this process of self-determination. and what is self-determination? it is to allow the people of puerto rico to express their wishes on their political destiny. h.r. 2499 does exactly that. the only possible option that the people of puerto rico have concerning the subject matter are the following -- remaining as a territory, which is called a commonwealth, but the label does not change the status. the commonwealth of pennsylvania is a commonwealth. yet, it is a state. puerto rico is a territory.
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and there is a clause in the united states constitution that provides and have so been interpreted by the united states supreme court that this congress has plannery powers over the territories, including puerto rico. and we do not fail to exercise them on a daily basis. for better or worse to the people of puerto rico who do not have voting representation in this congress who do not vote for the president and who do not participate in federal programs on an equal basis with the fellow citizens of the united states. this is one of the choices. and this bill, this plebiscite, h.r. 2499 provides for that. if the people want to remain under the current status they can. like they should be. now, if the people of puerto rico say we no longer want to be a territory of the united
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states, we should know that. all members of congress. and this bill then asks them. the choice among the three only options that are accepted under u.s. and international law, statehood, independence and there has been some talk about free association. let me tell you something. i agree with congressman serrano. libre association. in fact, there is one of our main parties that advocates to that. and it is simple. what micronesia, palau already have, an association between puerto rico and the u.s. as sovereign nations that is not a territory of the united states. that option is included. so all the options are there
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and it is only fair to ask the people of puerto rico to express themselves in a way that is not binding on this congress. we will, the congress will always have the last word on this topic as it should be. so that's why i have put forth before this congress on behalf of puerto rico as the only elected representative for the people of puerto rico. i ask for you to vote for h.r. 2499. the chair: the time of the gentleman has expired. all time for general debate has expired. pursuant to the rule, the amendment in the nature of a substitute printed in the bill shall be considered as an original bill for the purpose of amendment under the five-minute rule and shall be considered as read. no amendment to the committee amendment is in order except those printed in house report 111-468. each amendment may be offered only in the order printed in
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the report by a member designated in the report, shall be considered as read, shall be debatable for the time specified in the report equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent, shall not be subject to amendment and shall not be subject to a demand for division of the question. it is now in order to consider amendment number 1 printed in house report 111-468. for what purpose does the gentlewoman from north carolina seek recognition? ms. foxx: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield to -- sorry. i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk shall designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 1 printed in house report 111-468 offered by ms. foxx of north carolina. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 1305, the gentlewoman from north carolina, ms. foxx, and a member opposed, each will control five minutes.
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the chair recognizes the gentlewoman from north carolina. ms. foxx: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield to the gentlelady from the virgin islands for the purposes of a unanimous consent. thank you. the chair: the gentlewoman from the virgin islands is recognized. mrs. christensen: thank you, mr. chairman. i ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks in support of this amendment. the chair: without objection. ms. foxx: thank you, mr. speaker. i'd like to yield 15 seconds to the gentlelady from new york, ms. velazquez. the chair: the gentlewoman from new york is recognized for 15 seconds. ms. velazquez: mr. chairman, i rise in support of this amendment. the chair: the gentlewoman is recognized. ms. foxx: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. after being engaged in the spirited debate surrounding this bill, i'm pleased to support that both supporters and opponents of the underlying bill, regardless of partisanship, can support the amendment i am offering. it's my belief that congress has no business considering this bill at this time. puerto ricans have voted on
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statehood three times without congressional action. although congressional action is not needed, statehood advocates have defined this bill as necessary to providing a, quote, connolly sanctioned, end quote, vote process for puerto rico to determine its political status. however, if we're going to do this we need to pass a bill that ensures fair consideration of all points of view. although the bill is being touted as one to allow puerto rico -- puerto ricans the opportunity to exercise political self-determination as it's currently written, it does not have the freedom to vote for the preferred option in the second stage of the plebiscite. in the first stage of the plebiscite, puerto ricans are given two choices, the status quo or change. it's easy to see how anyone, even commonwealth status quo supporters, would agree some sort of change in their political processes. however, consensus on this question would move to a second stage where puerto ricans choose only from three options,
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statehood, independence or sovereignty in association with the united states. these three options denies supporters of continuing the commonwealth status quo, the freedom to vote for their preferred political status. whether they support statehood, independence or the commonwealth status quo, puerto ricans' views should be given equal and fair consideration. my amendment very simply adds a fourth option. commonwealth. puerto rico should have the form status for available voting options for the second stage of the plebiscite. this takes nothing from the bill that adds an option to reflect the views held by a significant portion of puerto ricans who should not be disenfranchised by this bill. this is an amendment members of all persuasions can support. opponents of the bill can remain opposed but take comfort in knowing the bill was made a little better. supporters or even co-sponsors of the bill can take comfort in knowing their bill was made even better. and with that i reserve the balance of my time, mr. speaker. the chair: the gentlewoman reserves the balance of her time.
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the gentleman from west virginia is recognized. mr. rahall: mr. chairman, i rise in opposition to the amendment. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. rahall: mr. chairman, this bill was carefully crafted to give the people of puerto rico the opportunity to inform congress for the first time ever whether they want to continue with their current temporary status, commonwealth or move to a permanent status, statehood, independence or free association. this amendment would subvert this effort by including a choice to include the island status among the options provided for in the bill's second plebiscite. adoption of this amendment would contradict the bill's intent and make it less likely that the people of puerto rico would seek a permanent nonterritorial status. debate over puerto rico's status continues to be the central issue in politics on the island, the fairest and simplest way we believe to address this concern is to let puerto ricans to either retain their present status as their underlying bill does or if they don't want to, allow them to elect to become a state, an independent country or free nation in association with
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the u.s. allowing a choice, retaining the current status after it was rejected in the first plebiscite, as this amendment would do, only serves to confuse the process and would likely prove an inconclusive outcome. i urge to defeat the amendment and reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentlewoman from north carolina is recognized. ms. foxx: thank you, mr. speaker. my colleague says that this bill has been carefully crafted. yes, it's been carefully crafted to keep the people who want the present status from being a choice, that is wrong. that should not be the way this bill is done. if they want to keep the present status they should be able to vote for it. i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlewoman reserves the balance of her time. mr. rahall: i have the right to close and i'll reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from west virginia reserves. the gentlewoman from north carolina is recognized. ms. foxx: could i inquire, mr. speaker, as to how much time i have left? the chair: the gentlewoman from
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north carolina has 2 1/2 minutes remaining. ms. foxx: mr. speaker, i think that this bill, as it is crafted, is not the right way to go for the people of puerto rico. i don't have a doing in this fight, i -- dog in this fight, i have not taken a position on whether they should vote for -- perhaps they should or not have statehood. but i don't like the congress of the united states being used to create a situation that disenfranchises people and that's what's happening here. we are wasting our time doing this. we don't need to do it, the people of puerto rico can vote on this without our doing this. we should be dealing with what's important to the american people, jobs and other issues. this is not necessary for us to do. i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlewoman reserves the balance of her time. the gentleman from west virginia continues to reserve? mr. rahall: i have the right to close and i continue to reserve
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the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman continues to reserve the balance of his time. the gentlewoman from north carolina is recognized. ms. foxx: thank you, mr. speaker. i would yield 30 seconds to my colleague from utah, mr. chaffetz. the chair: the gentleman from utah is recognized for 30 seconds. mr. chaffetz: thank you, mr. speaker. mr. speaker, i just encourage my colleagues to listen to the argument on the other side. they don't want the status quo to be one of the options. this is supposed to be a bill about self-determination. and yet it's this congress that's going to force its will to determine what's even going to be on the ballot. that's fundamentally wrong. i urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this amendment and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. does the gentleman from north carolina continue to -- from west virginia continue to reserve? mr. rahall: i continue to reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlewoman from north carolina is recognized. ms. foxx: thank you, mr. speaker. i believe my colleague from new york would like some time and i'm --
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ms. velazquez: how much time do we have? ms. foxx: a minute. ms. velazquez: a minute. ms. foxx: mr. speaker, could i inquire again how much time is left on my side? the chair: the gentlewoman has 1 1/2 minutes remaining. ms. velazquez: how much time remaining? i'm sorry. 1 1/2. ms. foxx: i'd like to yield to the gentlewoman from new york a minute and 15 seconds. the chair: the gentlewoman from new york is recognized for a minute and 15 seconds. ms. velazquez: thank you. mr. chairman, this amendment is a commendable effort to try and improve a deeply flawed piece of legislation. and i really thank the gentlewoman for being so committed to providing for a process of self-determination for the people of puerto rico. elections are only democratic if the people are not blocked from choosing between all the options
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potentially available to them. one of the many shortcummings of this bill is that -- shortcomings under this bill is that under the scheme it establishes, the second ballot will not include commonwealth as an option for voters. again, because what they want is for the people of puerto rico to vote for statehood instead of providing a fair democratic process. that is undemocratic, it is unamerican. that defies imagination. that is essentially telling the people of puerto rico that the system of government under which they curntly live is not even an option for them to consider. this approach ignores the fact that the commonwealth is what the majority of the people of puerto rico have selected in the last three previous popular votes. the amendment offered by the gentlelady will take a good
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first step -- the chair: the gentlewoman's time has expired. the gentlewoman from north carolina is recognized. ms. foxx: thank you, mr. speaker. again, i want to say that i think the congress of the united states is being used unfairly in this process. we do not need to be doing this. what the proponents of statehood are doing is rigging the process in favor of a vote for statehood and they're using the congress of the united states to establish the process for them. we don't need to be passing this bill. the people of puerto rico can vote without this bill. thank you, mr. speaker. the chair: the gentlewoman's time has expired. the gentleman from west virginia is recognized. mr. rahall: thank you, mr. chairman. before i yield to the gentleman from puerto rico to close on our side, let me just address one issue the gentlelady from north carolina raised about we having other issues that she alluded to
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which are more important than this issue to address in this economy like jobs, the economy, etc., therefore why are we considering this legislation? that may be true. certainly jobs and economy are very important to every one of our districts, but i think it should be worth pointing out here that it's most unfortunate that we can't get the type of bipartisan support, as much bipartisan support, from the minority side on those issues of jobs and economy as we do on this particular piece of legislation. i would yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from puerto rico. the chair: the gentleman from puerto rico is recognized. mr. pierluisi: yes, i rise in opposition to this amendment and the reason is rather straightforward. in a democracy the majority rules. the threshold question, the first question that h.r. 2499 poses is precisely to determine whether the majority of the people residing in puerto rico,
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the american citizens residing in puerto rico want to remain as a territory. once the majority speaks we will abide by that. if the majority says they want change, they do not want to continue being a territory called a commonwealth as it is, then it is only fair to ask a second question, choose among the only available alternatives. and the results will speak for themselves. they seem to be here, some think to be convinced that the result will be that the people of puerto rico will choose statehood. it remains to be seen. we don't know the percentage, we don't know what other percentages we'll have on the first vote, on the second vote. let's allow the people of puerto rico to express themselves. it is only fair. and the congress will have the last word.
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i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from north carolina. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. mr. rahall: mr. speaker, i ask for the roll call. a recorded vote. the chair: pursuant to clause 6 of rule 18, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from north carolina will be postponed. it is now in order to consider amendment number 2 printed in house report 111-468. for what purpose does the gentleman from illinois seek recognition? the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 2 printed in house report 111-468 offered by mr. gutierrez of illinois. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 1305, the gentleman from illinois, mr. gutierrez, and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the
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gentleman from illinois. mr. gutierrez: here we go again. they say this is a bill, chairman of natural resources says this is a bill to make sure that the people of puerto rico are able to define their fewer you to -- future and do it in a free, objective manner. really? well, last time they had a plebiscite in puerto rico, guess which option won? none of the above. guess which option they exclude? the winning option in the last plebiscite. so who's kidding who in this place? they had this thing rigged from the beginning to the end. if there were so faithful to the wishes, to the will, to the passion of the self-determination of the people of puerto rico, why aren't they including the very option that won? they say they respect the decision of american citizens on the island of puerto rico and we should give them an opportunity to express themselves freely in a referendum.
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guess what? they did and yet we reject the very option that they chose for themselves. what kind of democracy is that? i don't know what kind of democracy that is in other states but i know how i feel about it. none of the above for me offers this wonderful opportunity to the people of puerto rico just so that we understand, because everybody says, i want to read this, my old party, you mislead voters into thinking there is a legally better alternative to puerto rican political status other than an independent state or sovereignty. me? me? i'm misleading people? what is the last option that won? adopted by the government of puerto rico and voted on in puerto rico. the chair: the gentleman will suspend. the gentleman will suspend.
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the chair notes the service in the gallery in contra invention of the house, the order will be restored to the gallery -- gallery. the gentleman will suspend. the gentleman will suspend. the chair will mind all -- remind all persons in the gallery that they are here as guests of the house and any manifestation of approval or other audible conversation is in violation of the rules of the house. the gentleman may resume. mr. gutierrez: the truth is that the last time one of the alternatives was exactly what i offer. if you really believe and really trust and you really respect the judgment of the people of puerto rico then include it as they include it when they were able to -- if you say you're not imposing your will on them then give them the option when they had the ability to choose the different option. i'm not asking for anything else
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other than that. because i think that it is important and fundamental that we check into the history books. no one will contradict the fact that none of the above was the one that won. that that was one of the offers and then they say that i mislead. i don't mislead anybody. the fact is, you know, people out, i'm doing this or that, you know what? that's ok. people like me who defend the sovereign rights of the people of puerto rico, you know what happened to them in puerto rico? they get files on them by the government of puerto rico, they get jailed, they get made sure they lose their jobs, they get sanctioned. everybody always says, oh, why aren't there more people that believe in puerto rican independence? there's a lot of people that believe in puerto rican independence. more of them don't show themselves because when they do, you know what happens? those that support other alternatives lock them up. let me tell you something.
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i'll reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. who seeks time in opposition? mr. rahall: i'll speak in opposition to the amendment, mr. chairman. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. rahall: mr. chairman, as was the case with the foxx amendment, this amendment would also add a fourth option to the second ballot in the two-stage plebiscite process. i urge the defeat of this as well largely on the same lines as the earlier amendment. none of the above is the ultimate and unnecessary escape clause. the proposal for its inclusion on the ballot suggests that there exists some other option for permanently resolving puerto rico's status in a manner compatible with the u.s. constitution, beyond its three options of independence, sovereignty and association with the united states or statehood. such a belief defies the conclusion that international community, the courts and executive branch. there is no other viable option in the three to be presented in the second ballot as provided for in the underlying bill. thus this none of the above
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amendment is not about progress but rather inconclusiveness self-determination for the people of puerto rico shall not be held captive to any per suiter to status change not deemed viable by the u.s. constitution for international law. i urge defeat of the amendment and reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from west virginia reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from illinois is recognized. the gentleman from illinois. mr. gutierrez: how much time do i have left? the chair: 30 seconds. mr. gutierrez: i'd like to yield to the gentleman from utah. mr. chaffetz: i thank the gentleman. this amendment should pass unanimously. i don't care where you are on this issue. if you fundamentally believe that the people of puerto rico should be given a voice, then
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the voice that they should be allowed to check is none of the above. 50.3% of the residents there voted in favor of this last time. it is not right for us to deny them the opportunity to check the box that says none of the above. this should pass unanimously. i urge all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote for this. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: yaths the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from illinois is recognized. mr. gutierrez: i yield myself an additional minute, mr. speaker. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. gutierrez: i want to make this abundantly clear to everyone, and i know mr. pierluisi, the resident commissioner of puerto rico, who used to be the attorney general in puerto rico, understands this to be true. i'd like for him to step up and say, luis, you got it wrong. this is what happened in 1998. none of the above was the option included in the 1998 --
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pierluisi -- in the 1998 plebiscite. by the very sponsored -- by the very party that the proponent of the legislation that comes before us today, mr. pierluisi's party. they controlled the governorship, they controlled the house, they controlled the senate, they set up the parameters and they included it. yesterday they come to me and say that i am being misleading about what is going on. and more than that, it's the option that won. i also say fundamentally one of the reasons that i thought it was a good option because i thought that it wasn't fair the way it was designed and the way it was construed. you know what, i don't like the construction so people should say to us, to the congress, we don't like it so we reject your proposal.
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the chair: does the gentleman from west virginia reserve? mr. rahall: yes. i have the right to close. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from illinois is recognized. mr. gutierrez: let me use the last 30 seconds for this. i want you to look at this bill and you are going to find a section that says over one million puerto ricans born on the island of puerto rico that live in the united states, not in puerto rico, that live in the united states are guaranteed a ballot. what does that say to you? there's a reason they speak, -- speak spanish, ladies and gentlemen, there is a reason they go to the puerto rican day festival. there is a reason why they have a passion for their culture, for their language, for who they are and for their identity and it's affirmed by the very proponent of this legislation who understands that they are nationals, not of puerto rico, which you do not represent, but you are allowing them to participate in this process because you recognize they have
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an inherent right to participate. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from west virginia is recognized. mr. rahall: i yield to the representative of the people of puerto rico, mr. pierluisi. mr. pierluisi: how much time do i have? the chair: you have four minutes remaining. mr. pierluisi: i rise in opposition to this amendment because some of my colleagues here have been talking about one term, free association being an ambiguous term. well, there can't be nothing more ambiguous than none of the above. when you know all the options available are the options we have been talking about. the first option is for puerto rico to continue being a territory. and we all know what a territory is. our constitution provides for
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such. puerto rico is an unincorporated territory. that is an option. and there are only three other possible options. u.s. law and international law. independence, statehood and free association. it serves no purpose, no real purpose to include a none of the above option when those are the options that we all know exist for the people of puerto rico. if we want to eeffectuate self-determination, if we want to facilitate self-determination, if we want to give a voice to puerto rico, to the people of puerto rico with a meaningful purpose we can not include a none of the above option. that was indeed the result of the last plebiscite that was done in puerto rico which did not follow the bill that this house approved for the senate failed to act upon.
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it added the none of the above option and what happened to this day nobody can understand what this means. it served no purpose. that's why i rise in opposition to this amendment. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is now on the amendment offered by the gentleman from illinois. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the noes have it. mr. rahall: i ask for a recorded vote on that. the chair: pursuant to clause 6 of rule 18, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from illinois will be postponed. it is now in order to consider amendment number 3 printed in house report 111-468.
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for what purpose does the gentleman from illinois seek recognition? mr. gutierrez: to claim my five minutes according to this rule on this amendment. the chair: does the gentleman have an amendment at the desk? mr. gutierrez: yes. i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 3 printed in house report 111-468 offered by mr. gutierrez of illinois. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 1305, the gentleman from illinois, mr. gutierrez, and a member opposed, each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from illinois. mr. gutierrez: thank you so much, mr. speaker. i yield to the gentlelady from new york, ms. velazquez, a minute and a half. the chair: the gentlewoman from new york is recognized for a minute and a half. ms. velazquez: mr. chairman, this is a straightforward amendment, and it's very important that congress needs to be certain that the people of puerto rico understand what is at stake and the options before them. this amendment will make sure that the ballot for this process is available in both
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spanish and english. through this amendment puerto rico's overwhelmingly spanish-speaking population will be able to understand the ballot and exercise their vote. those who reside on the island who are not fluent in spanish will still have an opportunity to cast their ballot. they simply need to request one in english. mr. chairman, this is a simple amendment, and it will provide for everyone to understand such an important process that it's going to have such an incredible impact on the many people who live in puerto rico and those who do not live in puerto rico. so i urge its adoption, and i yield the balance of my time back to mr. gutierrez. the chair: the gentlewoman yields back the balance of her time. the gentleman from illinois is recognized. mr. gutierrez: i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time.
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does the gentleman from west virginia claim the time in opposition? mr. rahall: yes, mr. chairman. i do -- i rise in opposition to the amendment. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. rahall: mr. speaker, the pending amendment would strike the word that it the ballot in english. instead it is in spanish. an english ballot can be obtained only by a request of a voter. it strikes the right balance. we did address this issue during our full committee consideration of this legislation. and the pending amendment gives rise to the printing of a unified ballot. i'm sorry. the underlying bill gives rise to the printing of a unified ballot. the amendment before us undoes -- undoes that balance that we struck in the full committee in consideration of this issue and it puts an own us on -- on an onus on an english ballot. in my opinion, this would add
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tremendously to the administrative process, processing of the ballots, it would complicate the process. it would add costs. it would be a tremendous cost addition to the process as well. and i would therefore urge defeat of the amendment, and i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from west virginia reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from illinois is recognized. mr. gutierrez: i recognize the gentleman from utah for one minute. the chair: the gentleman from utah is recognized for one minute. mr. chaffetz: mr. speaker, i rise in support of this amendment. i believe that english should be the official language of the united states of america but that's a different issue. let's be honest. the people of puerto rico predominantly speak spanish. the amendment provides that if anybody wants an english ballot they can get an english ballot. i think that's fair. i think that's reasonable. it just allows the people of puerto rico to know what they're voting on. i think that's a simple request. there is no additional cost to the people of the united states of america because i was able
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to pass an amendment in the committee that said there will be no cost to the united states taxpayers here in the commonwealth of the united states. so, again, i rise in support of this. i think it's reasonable and urge support. thank you. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. mr. gutierrez: i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from illinois reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from west virginia is recognized. mr. rahall: mr. chairman, i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from west virginia reserves. the gentleman from illinois is recognized. mr. gutierrez: i'll use a minute and a half of my time. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for a minute and a half. mr. gutierrez: i thank the gentlelady from new york and the gentleman from utah for their comments. we're getting hoodwinked again. this is what is happening here. i'm telling you, this is like the derivatives that they got at goldman sachs. you don't know what's in it. look into it because it's going to blow up on you later on. let me tell you why. here's what it says on page 5. it says english ballot. the puerto rico state election commission shall ensure that
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all ballots used for any plebiscite include the full context of the ballot printed in english. that's all it says. now, you know why they do that, to give you the misunderstanding, right, the false sense of confidence that people are actually going to go and there's going to be a campaign and it's going to be conducted in english and people can take an english ballot. the fact is that the bat ots of puerto rico -- ballots of puerto rico is printed in spanish. there are like four big newspapers. the one in english went bankrupt. the ones that thrive are the ones in spanish. you ever turn the tv on in puerto rico? go down there. there are three or four really puerto rican stations. as a matter of fact, public tv in puerto rico is in spanish. the news is in spanish. we ought to provide some of the funding through the contributions, not the united states congress, necessarily. i am here to affirm, to affirm, and i hope that this congress recognizes that the people of
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puerto rico are a nation. they have a language. we should respect that language and that language is spanish. and as we move forward, the ballots in order for them to understand this process should be in spanish. i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from west virginia is recognized. mr. rahall: mr. chairman, i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from west virginia reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from illinois. mr. gutierrez: how many more speakers does the gentleman have? mr. rahall: concluding speaker. just one. mr. gutierrez: it's clear when we have an amendment, you know, they want to like finish it up. it's ok. it's been unfair since the very beginning, so what's a little more unfairness? the fact is i was a school teacher there. i was an elementary school teacher for two years in puerto rico. you know how much time the children in the public school system, which we support, taxpayers of the united states support, you know how much time during the day they speak in english? one class out of six. you know how i know?
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i spent 50 minutes a day teaching them english for almost two years. and you know what they would say? oh, mr. english. it was like the math class. it was like the biology class. it was like the class they didn't want to take. you know something? it doesn't mean that they don't necessarily love this country. it's just that they affirm who they are and we should respect that. they're puerto ricans, colony of spain and have the language of spanish as their predominant. let's respect that cultural linguistic integrity in puerto rico. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from illinois yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from west virginia is recognized. mr. rahall: i yield the balance of my time to the people's representative of puerto rico, mr. pierluisi. the chair: the gentleman from puerto rico is recognized for four minutes. pier pore mr. chairman -- mr. pierluisi: mr. chairman, i've heard here and it's
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unfortunate. some colleagues talk about it being rigged, using terms of that nature, and i can take it because i know that this is a fair bill. now, i just heard that somehow we're opposing this amendment because of the way that this bill is drafted. let me say for the record of this house that the language that provides for having the ballots in both spanish and english was offered in committee, in the committee of natural resources at the markup by mr. henry brown from south carolina who belongs to the republican party and we voted upon it. now the reason why i'm opposing this amendment is, first, it's totally unnecessary. as a matter of local law in
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puerto rico we need to include the ballots, provide the ballots in both english and spanish. that's what we're doing. we're just being fair. this amendment requires, as an alternative that now we need to print separate ballots in english and force those who feel more comfortable with the english language to request them, it is not necessary. i oppose it, that's all i'll say, i need say no more. the chair: the question son the amendment offered by the gentleman from illinois. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the noes have it. ms. velazquez: mr. chairman, i ask for a recorded vote. the chair: pursuant to clause 6
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of rule 18, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from illinois will be postponed. it is now in order to consider amendment number four printed in house report 111-468. for what purpose does the gentleman from indiana seek recognition? mr. burton: i and congressman young have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number four, printed in house report 111-468, offered by mr. burton of amendment. the chair: the gentleman from indiana, mr. burton, and a member opposed, will each control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from indiana. mr. burton: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. burton: this is an amendment that everybody will embrace, at least i hope so, because it clarifies what was
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just discussed. it says, this amendment would retain the requirement that all ballots used for authorized plebiscites include the full language of the ballot printed in english as well as spanish and require the puerto rico state elections committee that if puerto rico retains its current status or is admitted as a state, that, quote, one, any official language requirements of the united states will apply to puerto rico and it is the sense of congress that the teaching of english be promoted, not commanded but promoted, in puerto rico in order for english language proficiency to be achieved. we're talking about making sure that everybody who votes, everybody involved in every kind of official thing like a plebiscite, they'll see it in both english and spanish. we're also pushing to promote english more than it has been
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in the past. i think this is an amendment everybody should agree with. i yield to my colleague mr. young for the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from alaska is recognized. mr. young: i thank the gentleman for yielding, i strongly support this amendment. this amendment does support spanish and english. this is nothing new. we're just right now, in my state, we're printing our ballot, in my state in different languages within the state. this is an amendment everybody should accept, unless you're adamantly opposed to the legislation like some people are. i've spent some time, not nearly as much time as other people, in puerto rico. i find an awful lot of puerto ricans who do use english. i think everybody should speak two or three languages if they can. i say this amendment is the right way to duo so all votes will be in both languages, not one language, so they have the right to read and understand what they're voting on.
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it's the right bill, the right amendment. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from west virginia is recognized. mr. rahall: i am in support of the amendment. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from washington state rise? >> i rise in opposition to the amendment. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. hastings: mr. chairman, i want to say that i believe that this amendment is unnecessary and really masquerades the whole debate on english. let me explain why this amendment has essentially three components. i i will paraphrase what the components are. they talk about all ballots used in a plebiscite must be in english, number one. number two, prospective voters are informed that the official
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language requirements of the country will apply to puerto rico, that's number two, and number three, that it's in the best sense of congress to promote english. let me address each of those issues. let me suggest i believe this amendment is offered to only deny a straight up or down vote on the issue of english as the official language. first of all, the language that my good friend from indiana read in support of this amendment is already in the bill. it's on page five. it says that the plebiscite will be carried out in english. we don't need that, it's in the bill. the second provision is meaningless, it talks about federal language requirements, we know there's no federal requirement in this country as to english, even though 30 states have adopted that, but there's no official one from this -- from the united states there should be, but there isn't. and finally, i will concede at least a little point, the sense
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of congress language has no statutory effect but i will concede this. it is at least timely. why do i say that? because just three days ago, the secretary of education in puerto rico said, and i quote, english is taught in puerto rico as if it were a foreign language, end quote. in the 2005 census, 85% of puerto ricans said they had very little knowledge of english. as a practical matter in the commonwealth, the legislature, and in its court and classes in public schools, spanish is the primary language. so there's nothing in this amendment that will change that. what should have happened, and didn't happen, is the rules committee denied a straight up or down vote on english as the official language. that was embodied in the mr. broun of georgia amendment.
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unfortunately, we were denied the opportunity because of this structured rule to at least have a debate on that. if the intent of the rules committee is to say, ok, this is the -- this is the one that we should have, i totally disagree with that. so for that reason, i urge my colleagues to vote no on the amendment and i reserve my time. the chair: the gentleman from washington state reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from indiana controls the remaining time. mr. burton: i think the amendment speaks for itself. i think the amendment, mr. speaker -- or mr. chairman -- says very clearly we want to make sure that everyone who casts a ballot in an election or a plebiscite has before them the ability to understand what the ballot is about and be able to cast it intelligently. this is done in all kinds of states.
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many states have as many as 11 different languages which is really out of control, on one ballot. and so to say that you can't have two on this ballot in puerto rico so that they can cast their ballot intelligently doesn't make much sense. i am a very strong advocate for making sure everyone in the country speaks english. i understand what my colleague just said. in this particular case, we're talking about a plebiscite, that's going to be advisory for the congress of the united states that this is just to help this process along and make sure it's understood by everybody. the chair: does the gentleman yields back the balance of his time? mr. burton: i reserve it for now. the chair: the gentleman from washington state is recognized. mr. hastings: how many minutes on both sides? the chair: the gentleman from washington state has two minutes, the gentleman from indiana has a minute and a half. mr. hastings: i'm pleased to yield one minute to the gentleman from illinois.
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the chair: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. gutierrez: i'm happy the gentleman brought this amendment up. i hope it's defeated. but i'm happy he brought it up. it demonstrates the imperialist nature. here we are, dictating what language they have to use. you know what, it's amazing. i'm not surprised, mr. burton. i understand the people of indiana are angry at the people of puerto rico. because they arrested bobby knight. i think this is an important story to tell you he got arrest in puerto rico because they were pan-american dreams and the basketball team from the united states was competing against the basketball team from cuba and bobby knight went into a rage because all of the fans in the stadium, in puerto rico, all american citizens, were clapping and cheering for the cuban team. and not the american team. and so he said, what's wrong with these people? and threw a chair, as he likes
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to do, and got arrested. there's an arrest warrant, mr. pierluisi can tell us if the arrest warrant is still value rid, it u.s. -- valid. it just tells you they're a nation and they affirm who they are in every instance. the chair: the gentleman from indiana. does the gentleman reserve the balance of his time. mr. burton: one minute. the chair: the gentleman yields one minute. mr. peer louie esse: this is -- mr. pierluisi: this is a good amendment. this shows that whatever rules will apply in the united states will apply in puerto rico. it expresses the sense of congress that we should enhance the teaching of english in puerto rico. 90% of the parents in puerto rico want to improve the teaching of english in puerto rico to their children. i have two bills pending before this congress seeking additional funding, one, and
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the other, creating a teacher exchange program so that we have more english teachers in puerto rico. this is not an issue. we have two official languages in puerto rico, english and spanish, the same way hawaii has two official languages and we want all our children to be fluent in english and to facilitate the government process in puerto rico to the extent necessary so any enge accomplish -- english speaker will be -- speakers will be well served. i support the amendment that's been offered by the gentleman from indiana as well as the gentleman from alaska. the chair: the time of the gentleman has expire. the gentleman from washington state is recognize. mr. hastings: i have one minute reft, is that correct? the chair: that's correct. mr. hastings: and i have the right to close, is that correct? the chair: that's correct. mr. hastings: i yield 45 seconds to the gentleman from georgia, mr. broun. the chair: the gentleman is
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recognized for 45 seconds. mr. broun: i rise in opposition to this amendment. no commonwealth that doesn't have english as its official language has ever been admitted to the union. this amendment is opposed by every pro-english group in the country. this amendment only encourages enlish to be taught, without without any enforcement. further, it says language requirements of the united states will apply to puerto rico as the other states. that's totally useless. this would be a great provision if the united states had an official language, unfortunately we do not. i urge my colleagues to vote no on this amendment. the chair: the time of the gentleman has expired.
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the gentleman from indiana. mr. burton: i'll take the last 30 seconds to say, the gentleman from georgia has a strong accent but i understand him. i would like to say this is a clarifying amendment to make sure that everybody who votes down there in a plebiscite or election has the ability to understand and cast a vote intelligently. ians why anybody would be opposed -- i can't understand why anybody would be opposed to this. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from washington state is recognized. mr. hastings: thank you. i yield myself the balance of me time which is 15 seconds. mr. chairman, as i mentioned in my opening remarks, the pertinent part of this amendment is already in the bill. that speaks to the ballot. the other two are really meaningless and frankly this amendment does not even need to be considered today but if it's a cover, let's call it what it is.
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i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the time of the gentleman has expired. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from indiana. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the noes have it. mr. rahall: on that i ask for a recorded vote. the chair: pursuant to clause 6 of rule 18, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from indiana will be postponed. . for what purpose does the gentlewoman from new york seek recognition? ms. velazquez: i have an amendment at the desk plrks chairman. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number five offered by ms. velazquez of new york. the chair: the gentlewoman from new york, ms. velazquez and a
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member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentlewoman from new york. ms. velazquez: the nation of puerto rico is eight million people strong, four million reside on the island of puerto rico and four million live in the united states. from florida to new york city to chicago to california and every where in between, the puerto rican communities across the nation. those purns who have been born in the united states are not less purns than the ones who reside on the island. all of us, regardless of where we were born have a deep and abiding connection with our cultural home. puerto ricans raised on the mainland often speak spanish. they're taught about their cultural history and where they come from. in new york city, chicago and
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cities across this land, regardless of where they were born, all puerto ricans are deeply vested in the political future on the island. i was born and raised in puerto rico. but that does not make me more purn than mr. gutierrez. clearly there is a breach before the united states and puerto rico. puerto ricans have relatives and family members living in puerto rico and those puerto ricans living in the states possess their own sense of identity, which is shaped by and tied to puerto rico. this amendment would allow puerto ricans living on the mainland to participate in the plebiscite that is called for under the bill. importantly, the amendment requires that those wishing to vote be able to prove by birth certificate that they were born in puerto rico.
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this will provide safeguards against voter fraud while ensuring that we do not disenfranchise puerto ricans living in the states from this process. mr. chairman, puerto ricans living on the mainland are not less puerto ricans than those born on the islands. we should not deny them a vote in this process, which is so important to the puerto rican nation. these puerto ricans cannot be denied the right of self-determination and i urge my colleagues to vote yes on this amendment and i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from puerto rico, what purpose do you rise? mr. pierluisi: i rise in opposition. the bill before us is a bill of careful deliberation. we worked hard in reaching the right and correct balance.
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in terms of determining who should be eligible to vote in the plebiscite provided for in the bill. before reporting it, the committee considered as we had on previous puerto rican status bills, which voters should be participating. and we had to strike a balance. the bill makes both residents of puerto rico, who are otherwise to vote under puerto rican electoral law and u.s. citizens who were born in puerto rico, but who may not reside in the territory at the time of the plebiscite eligible to vote. the committee recognizes that a substantial number of individuals born in puerto rico, but not currently residing there hope to return to puerto rico one day. they could have a practical stake in helping to determine
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puerto rico's future political status. such argument does not hold, though, for those who are of puerto rican descent but those born outside the territory, which the pending amendment would allow. it chooses place of birth rather than ethnic identity as criteria. i urge this criteria to be maintained and this amendment be rejected. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the chair: the gentleman from puerto rico reserves. the gentlewoman from new york is recognized. ms. velazquez: how much time do i have left? the chair: the gentlewoman has 2 1/2 minutes and the gentleman from puerto rico has 3 1/2 minutes. ms. velazquez: i yield to the the gentleman from illinois. mr. gutierrez: let's have a little talk here. there's a difference. here's citizenship.
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here's nationality. here's citizenship. here's nationality. they should not be confused. ask the people in ireland. they were subjects of the queen, therefore, they were citizens. but they were always irish. ask the people of ukraine. they may have been subjects of the soviet union and citizens of the soviet union and have a passport, but they never stopped being ukranian. look at what happened in yugoslavia sclaff yeah once you got right of tito. that's what we do, too. as a matter of fact, the very proponents of this legislation afffirmed that i'm right. they recognize it. other wise, why would you allow people outside of the jurisdiction of puerto rico to vote and to determine its future unless you invested in them and inherently added themselves the
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nationality of puerto ricans. the gentleman from puerto rico says, separation between ethnicity. i'm not an ethnic puerto rican. i might be a lot more puerto rican than some puerto ricans are. i suggest the gentleman come to my city of chicago in the puerto rican community. there are many american flags, but two huge puerto rican flags. don't divide the puerto rican nation. it is a nation of people. it may decide that it wants to incorporate itself into the united states of america, but it always is a nation of people with inalienable rights with independence. don't divide our community. if you look at my birth certificate, it says puerto rico twice. mom and dad born in puerto rico and then says chicago, illinois. nine months earlier, i would have been in puerto rico. i'm separated by nine months. and yet, every fabric of who i
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am has a relationship to that wonderful, beautiful island, its music, artist try, poetry. one of the most beautiful songs was written in the united states of america and longing to returning to that island. just think a moment. think of the exodus of puerto ricans that left during 1950's during operation bootstrap. did they say great, we are in the united states and live here forever? no. the longing was return to that island. allow them a vote on the future of that island. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from puerto rico is recognized. mr. pierluisi: i reserve my time. the chair: the gentleman from puerto rico is the only one with
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time remaining. mr. pierluisi: how much time do we have? the chair: 3 1/2 minutes remaining. mr. pierluisi: in listening to the the gentleman from illinois, i keep hearing that he wants puerto rico to become independent, that he sees puerto rico as a nation, so be it. that defines status and that is one of the options this bill provides for. in crafting the bill, we tried to be as inclusive as we could, recognizing that people born in puerto rico might be interested in participating in this plebiscite, might want to return to puerto rico. and for the purpose of being as fair and as democratic as we could, we drew the line on requiring birth in puerto rico.
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more than that, we think it would be too encompassing and not necessary. so i oppose this amendment. i believe that the current bill is fair. it might not be perfect, like any piece of legislation. you draw lines when you're legislating, but this is a reasonable line. i oppose this amendment. and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back. all time having expired, the question is on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from new york. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the nos have it. ms. velazquez: mr. chairman, on that i request a recorded vote. the chair: pursuant to clause 6 of rule 18, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from new york will be postponed. it is now in order to consider amendment number 6 printed in
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house report 111-468. ms. velazquez: mr. chairman, i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the ealt. the clerk: amendment number 6 printed in house report 111-468 offered by ms. velazquez of new york. the chair: the gentlewoman from new york, ms. velazquez and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentlewoman from new york. ms. velazquez: mr. chairman, i am a strong believer that the people are smart enough to make tough decisions if they are presented with all the facts. clearly and object jecktively. this legislation does not -- objectively. this legislation does not provide the choices available to the people of puerto rico. that is not democracy by any definition. a true system of democracy does not preclude certain options, nor does it structure it in a
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way to manipulate an electorate. unfortunately, as we all know this legislation structures the votes in a way that will prevent a commonwealth option from receiving fair consideration. the process that allows for the creation of the commonwealth of puerto rico was adopted by congress. it is a legitimate form of government that is accepted by millions. i, therefore, find it appalling that this congress will consider precluding a commonwealth as an option for the people of puerto rico. mr. chairman, joining our union as a new state is not a step that should result from electoral tricks or engineering. joining the united states of america must be a decision that people undertake deliberately, knowingly and voluntarily. if the people of puerto rico wish to become a state, that
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option should be able to prevail against all other choices. the people should affirm in a single vote that they wish to move in that direction. they should not be presented with a serious of false choices that will force the electorate into choosing statehood. under this amendment, there will be an opportunity for the real vote with all the options on the table. this amendment eliminates the first-round vote and commonwealth as a choice for voters and provides for a runoff process if the option receives a majority of votes. the authors of this bill truly believe they have the will of the people on their side, then this amendment should cause them know concern. all this amendment will do is provide a chance for the people to vote on the future of the
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island with all the options before them including commonwealth to effectively preclude commonwealth from this process is to deny the puerto rican people a true right to self-determination. i urge you to vote yes on this amendment and i resevere the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlewoman from new york reserves. for what purpose does the gentleman from puerto rico rise? mr. pierluisi: i rise in opposition situation to the amendment. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. pierluisi: i yield to the gentlelady from florida. ms. wasserman schultz: i rise in opposition to the amendment because i believe it will muddy the waters of an otherwise clear choice that will be presented to the voters. i rise with tremendous respect for my colleague and friend, congresswoman velazquez and congressman guter res. but at
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the same time rising in opposition to the puerto rican democracy act. puerto rico has been a u.s. territory and resident since 1917. they have a rich service of history to our nation. they served in our military, federal officials and ambassadors and newest member of the supreme court and justice sotomayor is of puerto rican descent. they have never been given a chance to express their views in a meaningful sponsored by congress. because h.r. 2499 embodies the commitment to democracy that dines our nation, i urge my colleagues to join me in voting yes. i am proud that 20 of the bill's co-sponsors hail from the state of florida. it has hailed bipartisan support because of the close relationship between florida and puerto rico. my district alone is home to more than 30,000 individuals of puerto rican descent, many of whom travel frequently to the island to visit family members. companies in my district and
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across florida conduct business with those locate nd puerto rico. despite the close family and business ties that binds many in my district our two peoples are different in one critical respect, the residents of puerto rico, despite being citizens of the united states, cannot vote for president and do not have voting representation in congress. they also cannot access all federal programs to the same extent as the residents of the states can. h.r. 2499 would at long last give the people of puerto rico this opportunity. the bill authorizes the government of puerto rico to conduct an initial plebiscite. voters would be asked whether they wish to main the current status or choose a different status. the rational is simple. i would be happy to yield. ms. velazquez: the issue is not whether or not the people can vote or not in the presidential election. the issue is a true transparent democratic process for the
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puerto rican people in a refer referendum. . ms. wasserman schultz: i believe this would at long last give the people of puerto rico opportunities they have not been given before. it gives the voters of puerto rico a chance to weigh in on whether they wish to keep their status the same or change their status. the congress needs to give the people of puerto rico access to participatory democracy and this legislation does that. it will create a process for the citizens of puerto rico to decide their own political status. if the majority of voters cast their ballot in favor of danchte status, the government of puerto rico would be authorized to conduct a second plebiscite. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlewoman's time has expire the gentlewoman
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from new york is recognized. ms. velazquez: how much time do i have remaining? the chair: the gentlewoman has 2 1/4 remaining. ms. velazquez: i yield one toin to the gentlelady from the virgin islands. the chair: the gentlelady is recognized for one minute. mrs. christensen: i agree the people of puerto rico deserve to have a process to indicate their status preference but i agree that the way the vote is set up in the base bill is slanted toward one outcome. this is the third puerto rican status bill i've seen while i've been in congress and while i consider it coming closest to providing a plebiscite where each oopings is equal, it is not quite there yet. whether one supports commonwealth or not, i think everyone would agree the process should be fair and enable the people of puerto rico to ex-pressdz their preference for clear, equally treated options. this amendment does that.
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i think the runoff with the two receiving the most votes and none of the above provides an additional level means no one is forced to choose between options they don't support. i look forward to seeing the status option the people of puerto rico select, but i would have problems if it were arrived at through a flawed process. the chair: the time of the gentlewoman has expire. the gentleman from puerto rico. mr. pierluisi: i reserve think mime. the chair: the gentlewoman from new york. ms. velazquez: does the gentleman have further speakers? mr. pierluisi: no. ms. velazquez: eek, i will close. -- ok, i will close. the authors of this bill are not afraid of having the people of puerto rico to freely
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express themselves in a process that is democratic, that is transparent, they should support this amendment. but if they are afraid that the only way that they can get a simple majority supporting statehood is by denying the people of puerto rico to have the choice to vote for commonwealth, they know the history -- that history is on the side of the people puerto rico. repeatedly, every time the plebiscite has been conducted in puerto rico, they commonwealth status has won, the statehood has been defeated and that's why they are so afraid and that is why they are denying the right of the people of puerto rico to have true self-determination. i urge my colleagues to vote for this amendment, to support it, and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlewoman yields back the balance of her time. the gentleman from puerto rico is recognize. mr. pierluisi: i rise in
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opposition to the amendment offered by the gentlelady from new york. this amendment would replace the plebiscite process authorized by the bill with an entirely new process, including a runoff with a problematic none of the above option that is unsound, confusing, and unlikely to produce a clear expression of the voters' views on the status question. i urge my colleagues to reject this amendment. the amendment would delete the two-step process authorized by the bill and replace it with a one-step process that uses the term commonwealth to denote puerto rico's current status. as i said before, the term commonwealth is the legal name, the title given to the territory of puerto rico. including the term when giving the people of puerto rico an option is confusing in and of itself. particularly because it could
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imply that it's more than what it is. this has been debated long enough. a territory is a territory is a territory. call it whatever you may. by limiting the plebiscites authorized to one, the amendment fails to accomplish one of the primary purpose thoasts bill to determine whether the people of puerto rico consent to an arrangement that whatever its other merits does not provide them with self-government at the national level. the amendment includes a runoff process that provides for a none of the above option by in-- option. by including this option, it undermines the purpose of the legislation which is to enable a process of self-determination for the people of puerto rico. none of the above is not a valid status. the last plebiscite provided that. to this day, we cannot even interpret it.
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including it on any ballot misleads voters into thinking there's a possible alternative to the three available options. i rise in opposition and i urge members to vote no on this amendment. the chair: all time has expired. the question son the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from new york. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. mr. rahall: i ask for a recorded vote. the chair: pursuant to clause 6 of rule 18, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from new york will be postponed. it is now in order to consider amendment number 7 printed in house report 111-468. for what purpose does the gentlewoman from new york seek recognition? ms. velazquez: i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment you were in 7 printed in house report
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111-468, offered by ms. ve laz quezz of new york. the chair: pursuant to the rule, the gentlewoman from new york, ms. ve laz quezz and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the gentlewoman from new york is recognized. ms. velazquez: the ability of the people to choose their own national grouping without undue influence from another country is rightly recognized as a core element of freedom and liberty. sadly, today, we are debating legislation that turns its pack on this principle. what is perhaps most unfortunate is that we -- what we are debating today involves imposing ideas from the outside onto the island. it will seem to me that if we wish to keep faith with the democratic tradition of self-determination, then we will look for a guide to puerto
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rico's future not in the halls of congress and not in washington, d.c., but in puerto rico. the amendment that i am offering will honor the concept of self-determination. this amendment empowers the people of puerto rico to submit their own proposal for moving forward. the amendment expresses the sense of congress that we should not proceed until we have heard from those most impacted by this debate, the puerto rican people. the residents of puerto rico should exercise freely and without congressional interference the right to self- determination and this amendment recognizes the right. rather than having congress approve a bill that says to the puerto rican people, your relationship with the united states must change. this amendment sends a different message. it says to the puerto rican nation, we trust you to decide
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your future. if they envision a better alternative, then -- than the status quo, then let them come to congress and tell us. that is true self-determination. that is the process that will be viewed as legitimate by all parties in puerto rico. and it is a far cry from a bill that forces the puerto rican people too take a series of sham votes aimed at achieving a predetermined outcome. mr. chairman, i ask my colleagues to honor the democratic tradition of self-determination. i urge you to vote yes on this amendment and i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlewoman reserves the balance of her time. for what purpose does the gentleman seek recognition? mr. rahall: i rise in opposition to the amendment. the chair: the gentleman is
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recognized for five minutes. mr. rahall: this amendment does nothing to further the purpose of h.r. 2499 which is to allow the puerto rican people to determine their own status. it recognizes that puerto rican can conduct a plebiscite on a status option or options and calls on congress to, quote, respectfully postpone consideration of the issue until it receives a proposal for revision of the current u.s.-puerto rican relationship voted for by puerto ricans. we are all aware of the fact that puerto rico can conduct its own plebiscites, there's no disputing this fact. they've done so multiple times in the past, most recently in 1998. but because some of those were local referendum that included status definitions that were inaccurate and not likely pob support -- to be supported by the congress, the results were
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inconclusive. which brings us to the bill before us. we have the obligation to provide the people of puerto rico with a process that more likely than not will lead to a final resolution of the question of their political status which we have been grappling with for more than a century. the ealt amendment of the gentlelady fail this is test and therefore should be defeated. i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentlewoman from new york. ms. velazquez: i yield to the gentleman from illinois as much time as he may consume. the chair: the gentleman has 2 1/2 minutes. mr. gutierrez: thank you. it is very important that congress respect the self-determination of people of puerto rico to choose their future relationship with the united states or without the united states but to decide that future relationship. congress' pledges, and i think
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this is the key one, congress pledges not to sway, influence or dictate a status option to the people of puerto rico. now, look, my first election in puerto rico, i represented the puerto rican independence party. i was 19 years old. i was a delegate for that party to the first election. there was one vote for the puerto rican independence party. in my polling place. just for independence. that was mine at that point. i went to the university, i used to sell it to everybody in university. i haven't called the f.b.i. to see what a long list of things they have written down about me and who i associated with, but let me tell you something, i remember, the government of puerto rico knows not
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everything is fair and square in puerto rico. there's an adage in puerto rico. don't get together with those people or you'll be fingered you know what? 1,800,000 pages, you know, my dad was right. they had fingered us out. they had said who we were. you know what would happen? you couldn't get a job you couldn't be a teacher you couldn't be anybody prominent in the society of puerto rico. i'm here to say for all of those who fought for the independence of puerto rico and its rights to join as a sovereign nation in the world of nations, don't do this don't dictate. please note that although i have always been an advocate, i have never come before this congress to dictate my opinion. to dictate an outcome which benefits me. let me tell you something. you think you've got a definition for the commonwealth you can destroy? i've got a definition for independent i cancel also but i think it would be wrong to -- i can sell also but i think it would be wrong to do it.
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i think it would be unfair to do it. what the gentlelady from new york is doing is saying, return this process to the people of puerto rico. let them, you know, it's like i'm up to here every time, founding fathers, founding fathers, then they have you, what's your favorite founding father, no one can name you. the founding fathers had a constitutional convention. let's allow the spirit of the founding fathers to act in puerto rico. the chair: the gentleman from west virginia is recognized. .sqsp2i=5west virginia is recognized. mr. rahall: how much time do we have? the chair: 3 1/2 minutes left and time of the gentlewoman has expired. mr. rahall: i israel to the the gentleman from puerto rico. mr. pierluisi: i rise in opposition to the amendment offered by the gentlelady from new york. this amendment is in the nature of a substitute and seeks to
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postponean informed self-determination process. pofepone, delay, we have waited long enough. we have been waiting for 112 years. in addition, it basically opts out. congress is saying, we're not going to deal with this. easy for congress to do, but it is not the right thing. congress should be engaged in this process like it has never done before. why? there are four million american citizens living in that territory and they are being discriminated every day in legislation that is pending before the congress. if they want to live under those conditions, so be it. they should tell this congress. but if they want a different
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status, nonterritorial, they should be given the chance to express themselves along those lines. and the option is clear. the gentleman from illinois, looks like he favors one of those options, independence for puerto rico. talks about puerto rico being a nation and so on. i respect that. if that's the will of the ma -- majority of puerto rico. i'm sure this congress will respect it as well. there are two other options. in puerto rico, people know very well what free association is all about. and the other one is statehood. there has been lots of talk about statehood. and to all those who have raised concerns about the potential of admission of puerto rico as a state, is we aren't there yet. when we get there, then we'll address it. but at least this bill allows
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the people of puerto rico to express their will. what is more democratic than that? what is fairer than that? nothing. to simply say, we aren't going to get involved in this. solve it among yourselves. easy way out. but that's not fair. we have waited long enough. i rise in opposition to this amendment. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the question on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from new york, those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes vit. mr. rahall: i ask for a recorded vote. the chair: pursuant to clause 6, rule 18, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from new york will be postponed. it is now in order to consider amendment number 8 printed in house report 111-468. for what purpose does the
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gentleman from washington state seek recognition? mr. hastings: i have an amendment in the nature of a substitute made in order under the rules. the clerk: amendment number 8 printed in house report 111-468 offered by mr. hastings of washington. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 1305, the gentleman from washington, mr. hastings, and a member opposed, each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from washington state. mr. hastings: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. hastings: mr. chairman, the debate has centered largely on the procedure by which citizens of puerto rico should, if they desire, become a state. i'm of the opinion and what this amendment does is to state very specifically that they have within their powers, citizens of puerto rico have within their power to make that determination. that is the proper way to go.
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i also believe that the amendment that just passed by a voice vote, the velazquez amendment, accomplishes the same thing. and so i don't want to be redid you understand ant, and in a moment, mr. chairman, i'm going to ask if i could have this amendment withdrawn, but before i do that, i want to yield one minute to my colleague from illinois, mr. gutierrez. the chair: the gentleman from illinois is recognized for one minute. mr. gutierrez: i thank the gentleman for yielding to me. i want to make a couple of comments before we end this debate very, very soon. i know everybody thinks this is about self-determination, if it with were truly, why are the other two parties in puerto rico oppose todd the bill? all those who believe in independence opposed to the bill? why do those who believe in commonwealth opposed to the bill?
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if this represents the will of the people of >>, why are the other two parties opposed to the bill? that's a very important question that we ask ourselves. and mr. pierluisi acknowledged in the puerto rican media that he didn't seek the opinions of the opposition party with regard to this bill because it would have been -- [speaking spanish] mr. gutierrez: which means, a waste of time. it is not a waste of time. i think we can all gather around the gentlelady and support her amendment. [speaking spanish] the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from west virginia. mr. rahall: i rise in opposition to the amendment. we have a roll call order on
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that vote. mr. hastings: i understand that, but the chairman said that the amendment passed. that's a pretty good -- mr. rahall: roll call vote is scheduled. mr. rahall: reclaiming my time. you know, this particular amendment does nothing to fulfill our obligation to provide a process for self-determination to the people of puerto rico and it is very similar to previous amendments that have been offered today. it was my hope that when the gentleman supported reporting the bill from committee, when he voted for it back on july 22, 2009, when the bill passed out of our natural resources committee on a 30-8 vote, the ranking member, good friend, the gentleman from washington, is listed as an aye vote. aye vote for the pending legislation before us today. in addition, in looking through
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the report here, i see no dissenting views. there are additional views, but there's no dissenting views to this bill as it came out of our committee of natural resources back on july 22, last year. so we are where we are. regrettably, the gentleman's substitute does nothing to advance the goal of self-determination. it states the obvious. puerto rico does have the authority to conduct the plebiscite on its own and has done so, often with confusing definitions of the alternatives. but there's never been a congressesally authorized plebiscite, one backed by the full power of the united states congress and that is what the underlying bill is all about. that's what our efforts are here all about, showing some congressesally sanctioned approval of the puerto ricans' efforts at self-determination.
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with that, i reserve. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from washington. mr. hastings: i yield myself the balance of the time. in response to my good friend from west virginia, the distinguished chairman of the committee, yes, it's true, i voted for the bill, but there is more to the story. in my opening remarks, i expressed doubt that this is the proper way to go and i expressed those doubts, but i know that this issue is something that needs to be resolved. i was hoping when it got to the floor of the house, it might have an open rule so it could be perfected. but i wanted to find out more about this issue and i found out more and why i am in opposition to it. i called the governor last friday and told him my decision and he was very gracious. now as to this amendment, as i had mentioned, the velazquez amendment accomplishes what i want to accomplish in my amendment.
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i rise in support of the velazquez amendment when we have the roll call and i ask unanimous consent to have my amendment withdrawn. the chair: is there objection? hearing no objection, the amendment is withdrawn. pursuant to clause 6 of rule 18, proceedings will now resume in those amendments printed in house report 111-468 on which further proceedings were postponed in the following order, amendment number one by ms. foxx of north carolina. amendment number 2 by mr. guter res. of illinois. amendment number 3 by mr. guter res. of illinois. amendment number 4 by mr. burton of indiana. amendment number 5 by ms. velazquez of new york. amendment number 6 by ms. velazquez of new york and amendment number 7 by ms. velazquez of new york. the chair will reduce to five
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minutes the votes. the unfinished business is request for recorded vote on amendment number 1 printed in house report 111-468 by the gentlewoman from north carolina, ms. fox, e foxx on which the ayes prevailed by voice vote. the clerk: amendment number 1 printed in house report number 111-468 offered by mrs. foxx of north carolina. the chair: a recorded vote has been requested. those in support of a recorded vote will rise and be counted. a sufficient number having arisen, a recorded vote is ordered. members will record their votes by electronic device. this is a 15-minute vote. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.]
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