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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Pierluisi says he will refrain from proposing local status vote

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Wednesday that he will not submit to the island Legislature a bill that would enable a political status vote along with the November elections.

Pierluisi, who is seeking reelection, said he is refraining from holding a local status vote because he wants to pressure Congress into passing status legislation that already has more than 20 co-sponsors and is pending Senate approval.

“I have always said that while the status issue is moving in Congress, we must avoid calling for a consultation at the local level,” the governor said. “We are actively seeking more co-sponsors of the status bill before the Senate. If I remember correctly, we already have about 25 co-sponsors, a very important number. Still, we continue to make arrangements with members of the Senate so that that number continues to increase, and to grant us a public hearing.”

Luis Dávila Pernas, who directs the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration in Washington, is in charge of moving the status bill on Capitol Hill on a daily basis.

“It is more of a strategic decision on my part that Congress continues to feel the pressure on our part,” Pierluisi said in an aside with the press.

Groups within the pro-statehood movement have said Congress will not act on the status bill pending in the Senate.

Recently, prominent supporters of Puerto Rico statehood, including pro-statehood lawyer Gregorio Igartúa, sent to all 500 members of Congress a draft bill that would make Puerto Rico an incorporated territory of the United States in the hope that it can gain approval. They did so because they believe the bill that would enable a congressionally binding status vote will not go up for a vote. They said Congress will be more open to making Puerto Rico an incorporated territory.

The draft legislation, a copy of which was obtained by the STAR, notes that while Puerto Rico is legally an unincorporated territory, the island has been incorporated through a series of laws including the Foraker Act, which organized the commonwealth government into three branches, the executive, legislative and judicial; the Jones-Shafroth Act, which gave U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans; and the commonwealth Constitution.

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