Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Competition to HR 900: HR 1230

Little spoken of, sometimes seemingly dead, the reason that there's not a 'consensus' stance that my least favorite Democrat, Pelosi, keeps stalling HR 900 over is because of another bill in the House, HR 1230. There are some differences between HR 900 and HR 1230. They're not just details, but rather items that will radically change the future of Puerto Rico.

HR 900 is set up to have a plebiscite about whether or not to change the status of the Territory of Puerto Rico. Then if it passes, a constitutional convention will be held to decide the fate of the island: this wasn't originally intended to be the case. It was intended to be a double plebiscite where the second vote would have been on independence or statehood. Additionally, if the voters reject a change in status, the bill provides that this plebiscite would repeat indefinitely every 8 years until a status change is effected. More than likely, if enacted this law would either result in independence or statehood. The whole point of the bill is to exclude the current or the alternate so-called "enhanced commonwealth" status.

HR 1230 is set to allow a plebiscite as well, but it allows for the enhanced commonwealth status. In fact, the current governor of Puerto Rico is one of the driving forces behind this bill. He is the head of the party that supports the so-called enhanced commonwealth status. There are some other differences compared to the other bill as well. One is that there is one plebiscite. Then there is a constitutional convention. It comes up with the future status of the territory then it presents the decision to the voters and then to Congress. Either can reject the proposal. If that does happen, then one of the key differences between this and HR 900 is that the constitutional convention is ongoing. It remains sitting and tries to come up with another answer to the status question and then must go through the same dance again.

I'll be very honest that I really support HR 900 in its original form rather than HR 1230. I am also against the so-called enhanced commonwealth status, some of those reasons are articulated here. After having read some on the Insular Cases, I'm rather anticolonial. I am rather not antiexpansionist, just I believe that the Constitution follows the Flag. Furthermore, I'm rather pro-statehood for Puerto Rico.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just keep in mind that Congress effectively obviated the worst parts of the Insular Cases with the Jones Act of 1917, which extended citizenship to the Puerto Ricans.

I used to agree with you, but the older I get, the more I think that the current status quo finesses the issue quite satisfactorily.

Nationalism shouldn't be a binary thing, and Commonwealth status allows the people of Puerto Rico to be both Puerto Rican and American.

It also lets them punt on the independence issue, and that's no small advantage.