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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor: Congress to start talks on status legislation soon

U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.)

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Monday that he expects Congress to start discussions on status legislation by the end of the month.

The governor made his remarks during a radio interview with Notiuno. The office of U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) confirmed that the office is giving parties until the end of March to reach a consensus as to which status bill they will support as he wants a consensus bill.

Grijalva chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, which is responsible for advancing “the interests of the indigenous peoples and residents of the territories of the United States,” according to the committee’s web page.

Currently there are two status-related bills in Congress. One is House Bill 1522, submitted by Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón and the other, House Bill 2070, submitted by several members of Congress headed by Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.). A similar bill was filed in the Senate.

González Colón’s bill seeks Puerto Rico’s admission as a state. Under the bill, the president of the United States is to notify the governor of Puerto Rico once the “Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act” is enacted. The bill further requires that the governor, within 30 days of being notified of the act’s enactment, issue a proclamation for the election of Puerto Rico’s senators and representatives in Congress. The governor must call for an election in which voters will ratify their desire for admission into the Union as a state.

Upon receiving the governor’s notification, the president will be required to issue a proclamation declaring certified the results for statehood and declaring the date upon which Puerto Rico will be admitted as a state, which must occur no later than 12 months after the results have been certified. Upon issuance of this presidential proclamation, Puerto Rico will be deemed admitted into the Union as a state.

Velázquez’s bill, introduced last year, the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2021, calls for creating a “status convention” made up of delegates elected by Puerto Rican voters. The delegates would be responsible for coming up with long-term solutions for the island’s territorial status — statehood, independence, free association or other options beyond its current territorial arrangement.

Sen. Bob Menéndez (D-N.J.), who introduced the measure in the upper chamber, said the delegates would hold formal talks “with a bilateral negotiating commission” of several members of Congress and other federal officials. Options would be “put before the people of Puerto Rico to vote in a federally recognized referendum for the first time,” Menéndez said last May.

Meanwhile, Senate President José Luis Dalmau, of the pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party, held a meeting with various groups to reach a consensus on how to deal with status. At press time, he had not provided more information.

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