Outgoing GOP congressman accuses governor of pestering
By The Star Staff
U.S. Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) told Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia at a public hearing of the House Committee on Natural Resources on Thursday that Puerto Rico always comes to Congress to ask for money and statehood, and he reiterated that he disagrees with granting statehood for Puerto Rico.
“I am totally clear that the purpose of this hearing is to talk about the disaster and the recovery process of the electrical system,” Hice said during his turn at the public hearing. “But the truth is, every time we have a hearing here over Puerto Rico, one of two things happens and it just happened here again. And it is that they come here with their hands open asking for more money or asking for statehood. That’s all we cater to here. And it is no secret that I oppose statehood for Puerto Rico and I am not alone in that position.”
“It is also no secret that many people in Puerto Rico want statehood. But there are many compelling facts and arguments that have to be considered. And the measure that this commission forced through, HR 1522 [HR 8393, the Puerto Rico Status Act] is inherently flawed,” the outgoing legislator continued. “The bill, for example, does not allow Puerto Rico to decide if it wants to remain a territory. It is critical that bills allow for all possibilities and that is one that was left out.”
“The thing that disturbs me the most is that this committee rushed that bill through without even holding public hearings. That is unacceptable,” Hice said. “The issue of statehood has to be carefully addressed. It is not something that can be rushed and treated with little seriousness and say, well, let’s vote. That’s not the way to handle that. But that is the usual way that this committee has dealt with the matter of Puerto Rico.”
Hice, who lost his seat in the midterm elections, delivered a few more remarks then proceeded to leave the hearing before Pierluisi had a chance to respond.
Later, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón said Hice “does not live in Puerto Rico and no one from Puerto Rico voted for him.”