Washington - While Governor Ricardo Rosselló was taking the results of the plebiscite r to Congress and to the Organization of American States (OAS), the minority leader inHouse of Representatives Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy agreed with the Republican leadership of that commission in the fact that the attention over Puerto Rico must still be focused on public debt and fiscal crisis.
Raul Grijalva, a Democrat spokesman, said yesterday that he doubts tremendously that the Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy wants to push forward a pro-statehood project, based on the results of last Sunday's plebiscite.
“With a participation of only 23%, and the other two parties fostering boycott, the doubt over is if this is the fundamental desire of the people of Puerto Rico. What we need to know is what is happening with PROMESA law, and how the federal government will contribute to boost the economy, Medicaid and Medicare funds, and invest in infrastructure. “Had things benn clearer, it would be different now”, stated Grijalva (Arizona) to El Nuevo Día.
Grijalva’s remarks match with the ones already made by the president of the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Republican Doug LaMalfa, who indicated to The Hill that with a participation so low, the Congress must dedicate to the fiscal situation of Puerto RIco. And the fact that the Democrats are the ones who usually contribute to the vast majority of the votes on the Puerto Rico status project in the Lower Chamber raises more questions.
Short before the plebiscite, the president of the Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy, republican Rob Bishop (Utah), and who is to control any action over the status, had said that before August recess he expected to hold a hearing over the fiscal crisis.
Yesterday, Bishop sent a letter to José Carrión, the president of the Fiscal Oversight Board who controls the Island's finances, to advocate for the restructuring support agreement of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (AEE, spanish acronym), but this week he did not want to speak about the status.
Anyway, governor Rosselló went to the House secretariat together with Commissioner Jennifer González, who submitted to the Congress records the results of the plebiscite, in which the statehood obtained 97% of the votes.
It was not only the referendum with the lowest participation in history, but also that the close to 502,000 votes in favour of the statehood, meant the lowest amount of votes in a quarter century.
Rosselló met the Democrat leader of the Senate Committee on Energy and Resources, María Cantwell, with jurisdiction over the status.
Right now, due to the fact that governor Rosselló refused to postpone the plebiscite to wait for a second review of the Department of Justice of the United States over the plebiscite law, there is no pro-statehood project in Congress that the government of Puerto Rico can promote.
Nevertheless, commissioner González - who met yesterday in the White House with the director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Justin Clark, is preparing a new law able to move forward “a process of transition towards statehood”.
González foresees an status hearing by late September.
Before a press conference at the National Press Club along with Congress members Don Young, Republican for Alaska, and Darren Soto, Puerto Rican Democrat for Florida, Rosselló met with Luis Almagro, OAS general secretary, who authorised him to say that “they validate civil, humans and democratic rights of the people of Puerto Rico and they make a call for the colonization system to end”.
Besides, Young and Soto published a report on the plebiscite, in which they participated as observers. Young and Soto are two of the six Congress members that endorsed statehood after the consultation. “Absolutely”, said republican Sean Duffy (Wisconsin), when supporting statehood.
For the governor, not waiting for federal Justice endorsement will not transform into a new excuse from the Congress and insisted on the fact that the request for statehood is a matter of civil rights.
Rosselló stated that “when Martin Luther King fought for civil rights and women for their right to vote, they did not wait for the right time”.
Even though she submitted the preliminary results of the plebiscite to the Congress records, commissioner González was not present at press conference held by the governor and her colleagues Soto and Young.
González had said that he had a voting session in the Small Business Committee. “I am conscientious about the work I have to do in the Committee - said the Commissioner -, it is the only where I vote”.
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