Washington - When the House sessions resume tomorrow, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez hopes to have details of the plan of the Committee on Natural Resources regarding a pending hearing on the status of Puerto Rico and her pro-statehood bill.
The general agenda for the19 session days that the House has planned so far before November 6 midterm elections would be defined in a Republican legislative conference.
Although the House resumes sessions tomorrow after more than one-month recess, they plan to suspend them for 10 days this month and an additional thirty days as of October 12.
Regarding Puerto Rican key pending issues they depend, mainly and in the short term, on the leadership of the Committee on Natural Resources.
About this, Jennifer Gonzalez, Resident Commissioner in Washington D.C. said she expects to bring Republican Rob Bishop (Utah) -chair of the Committee on Natural Resources- some proposals regarding his request for a study on how to depoliticize the Governing Board of the Electric Power Authority (PREPA) or the Energy Commission, and initiatives to improve the power grid.
"I'm going to make a report with recommendations to discuss with him and the advisors of the Committee," Gonzalez said.
But Gonzalez also foresees convening a hearing on the island´s political status –marked by June 2017 plebiscite- that the Committee on Natural Resources had planned since February 2017.
That hearing would also be based on Gonzalez's pro-statehood bill 6246, which encourages the creation of a Congress Working Group to propose a transition process to statehood by January 2021.
Gonzalez said she was hopeful that Bishop would not only convene a public hearing, but also vote in favor of the legislation.
But, on this occasion, she said "I will not put words in his mouth," when asked if she has Bishop's commitment that it will be voted first in the Committee on Natural Resources, and if approved, then in the House floor.
"We're going to have the public hearing. We start from there," she said.
Regarding expectations that a senator will submit a pro-statehood bill like hers, Gonzalez said that she has left this job in the hands of the Equality Commission created by Governor Ricardo Rossello Nevares.
Since the beginning of the year, Republican Senator Marco Rubio (Florida), the island's main Republican ally in the Senate, warned that they do not have the votes to push for the statehood proposal in the US Senate.
Last week, the Oversight Board, which oversees the island´s public finances, ordered the governor to eliminate any reference to statehood from the fiscal plan. On Twitter, Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez protested and stressed that PROMESA establishes that the Board cannot interfere with the future political status of the island.
When the House resumes its sessions - the Senate was in session in August - the bicameral conference on the agricultural appropriations bill should also be intensified. The version of the House includes a section that would ban cockfighting in Puerto Rico and other territories, as it happens in the states.
On the other hand, Gonzalez said she keeps pushing for the disbursement of federal funds to mitigate the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.
She also thinks that - this very week or the next one - the House can approve its legislation in favor of the US Homeland Department conducting a study on drug trafficking and potential terrorism in the United States maritime boundaries related to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
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