Puerto Rico Democracy Act–Legislation Biased in Favor of Statehood

Brian Darling, Heritage Foundation, April 27, 2010

According to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the House will vote on H.R. 2499, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act, later this week. The legislation provides Puerto Rico a two stage voting process and makes some non-resident Puerto Ricans eligible to vote on Puerto Rican statehood. This legislation has rigged the process in favor of making Puerto Rico the 51st state and is not a fair way to force statehood on a Commonwealth whose people may not want it. Furthermore, this may be an expensive proposition for the American people who are already on the hook for approximately $12.9 trillion in national debt.

This bill attempts to rig the voting process and denies the American people a real say on the issue of whether they want to allow Puerto Rico to be granted statehood. The fact of the matter is that Puerto Ricans have rejected statehood numerous times and this bill seems to have been written in a way to fast track statehood without a majority of Puerto Ricans favoring the idea. Furthermore, the people of the United States should be allowed a vote on whether they want to admit Puerto Rico as a new state. If the people of Puerto Rico can vote, the people of the United States should have a vote.

{snip}

Clearly, a plurality of the people of Puerto Rico could vote for “Statehood” without a majority of the people voting ever supporting the idea. The people of Puerto Rico have rejected statehood three times and it seems that this vote is set up to allow a simply plurality of the people to carry the day.

Another odd provision allows non-resident Puerto Ricans to vote on statehood for the Commonwealth. {snip} Residency requirements may be waived, because Puerto Ricans living in the states would naturally favor statehood for the Commonwealth.

This provision allows non-resident Puerto Ricans to undermine the will of the residents of the Commonwealth. According to the U.S. Census, there are more Puerto Ricans residing in the 50 states, than in the proposed 51st state. {snip}

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) put out a report dated July 28, 2009 on H.R. 2499. The CBO report estimated that there would be no score for this bill, because it only authorizes a vote, but if Puerto Rico was granted statehood the cost would be massive. My boss, Edwin Feulner wrote in 1997 piece titled Do We Need a 51st State? “in an era of government downsizing and balanced budgets, it would increase entitlement spending (welfare, Medicare, Social Security) by an estimated $3 billion per year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.” {snip}

{snip} A vote by members of Congress is not enough to indicate consent of the American people for Puerto Rican statehood. {snip}

[“The Threat of Puerto Rican Statehood,” by James P. Lubinskas, can be read here.]

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