Puerto Rico statehood bill passes House, 223-169; Update: Ballot bias towards statehood cured?

posted at 7:24 pm on April 29, 2010 by Allahpundit

I made the case yesterday that there’s still a long way to go before PR becomes number 51, but I doubt that’ll comfort most of our commenters. Oh well.

Proponents say the measure gives citizens of the island the right to self-determination.‬‪ ‬‪Critics say the measure is a device to impose statehood on a population that doesn’t want it.‬‪ ‬‪Thursday’s action was nonbinding, and if Puerto Ricans eventually select statehood, Congress would still have to vote to admit the island to the union as the 51st state.‬‪ ‬‪

The issue divided Democrats and Republicans alike as liberal Democrats with ties to Puerto Rico teamed with conservative Republicans to oppose the measure.

The divides were particularly stark among members of the House Republican leadership team. House Minority Leader John Boehner,R-Ohio, voted against the legislation. Meantime, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence, R-Ind., voted in favor.

The GOP tried to add an amendment making English the official language of a Puerto Rican state but the Dems naturally knocked it down. The full roll isn’t available yet but you should be able to find it here once it is. I’ll update in any case to note major Republican and Democratic defections. Two on the lefty side are Luis Gutierrez and Nydia Velazquez, both of whom opposed the measure for one of the same reasons Glenn Beck did — namely, that it supposedly tilts the vote in favor of statehood.

Via Cubachi, here’s Pence’s floor speech in favor of the bill. An unanswered question per yesterday’s post: Why does Congress need to act here at all? The Puerto Rican government is perfectly capable of calling its own referendums (as it’s done three times before) and Congress is perfectly capable of taking the results under advisement. No need to nudge them.

Update: The roll is up. Among the Republicans voting yes: Marsha Blackburn, Cantor, Joe Cao, Mike Castle, Tom Cole, Jeff Flake, Jeb Hensarling, Darrell Issa, Peter King, Mark Kirk, Kevin McCarthy, Pence, and Aaron Schock. Among the Democrats voting no: Jason Altmire, Rosa DeLauro, Barney Frank(!), Gutierrez, Dennis Kucinich(!), Walt Minnick, Tom Perriello, Bobby Rush, Velazquez, and Anthony Weiner.

Update: Reader Jorge B. makes a nice catch. One of the criticisms of the proposed ballot was that it offered no option for Puerto Ricans to retain their current status as a commonwealth on the second part of the vote. Remember? It’s a two-step process: First, they’re asked whether they want to retain their present status or become something different, and if a majority votes for the latter, they proceed to a vote on statehood, independence, or “sovereignty in association with the United States.” Looks like there’s now going to be a fourth option thanks to an amendment offered by Virginia Foxx:

An amendment numbered 1 printed in House Report 111-468 to allow supporters of the commonwealth status quo the option of voting their preference during the second stage of the plebiscite.

The amendment passed, 223-179. Having the commonwealth option on the second half of the ballot will probably split off a bunch of votes that would have otherwise gone for statehood.

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They have the votes completely backwards.

The first one should have 4 or 5 or however many than want.

The second vote should have two: Yes or No, on whatever choice got the most votes in the first round.

pedestrian on April 29, 2010 at 8:53 PM

People in Puerto Rico has checked even on Alex Jones, and Glenn Beck; dang it sucks to be an American and not being wanted in America. They are very pissed at Luis Gutierrez and Nydia Velazquez (who are from Puerto Rican descent) but support Mexican illegals.*NOTE: VOTE THEM OUT!*

There are so many statehood supporters that are freedom-loving Americans you guys have no idea how many Republicans are in the island. They seem very happy with the outcome.

There are some that also post that they are tired with the US’ dependency and feel that PR should break free, as a sign of progress.

The status quo party people, see this as a triumph as well, because the status quo can still be chosen as an alternative. Pro-statehood followers (myself included), are now pressing them to pick and choose which side they will take. Remember what I wrote. They want to be stuck where they are! Fear of statehood, fear of independency.

This bill will make it really unquestionable for Puerto Rico to choose wisely, and not ruin any plebiscite because of the current government. They see this as the “real deal”, meaning that Congress WILL hear us now.

Why PR can’t just get together and vote and pick one? POLITICS. I can read all evening and the political left vs. right vs. status quo will perpetuate. Therefore, I will probably self-ban myself from any PR affairs because you guys don’t understand what’s going on; nor Glenn Beck.

ProudPalinFan on April 29, 2010 at 8:54 PM

Has the FALN weighed in on this?

TugboatPhil on April 29, 2010 at 8:57 PM

This was a show for the hispanic voters – a show of support for something for them (even though they know they won’t get to statehood) while they screw them on immigration reform. O already said they are not going to take up immigration law this year.

Stephanie on April 29, 2010 at 8:41 PM

Crap here we go again. Why you are mixing two different issues, in two different places and connecting them to the same country and different citizenship?

ProudPalinFan on April 29, 2010 at 8:58 PM


quoting you here:

No kidding. Actually, PR is Clinton country. During the primary, O sent Bill Richardson to habla the Hopenchange and everybody saw through the pander. And then Michelle flew in.

LOL! See how significant both Bill Richardson and Michelle are to me, that I don’t remember them flying in.

Yea Clinton country; I give that much to you. If a POTUS, regardless of party, really REALLY takes care of the people, the people will remember them. PR does, and well, hats off to them and to the PR team that took charge of the POTUS primary in PR.

That’s one of my problems…Republican presidents have spoken about this, but have done nothing to focus neither on PR nor on the status issue. I am aware (my sis in PR agrees) this will not make it past the House.

ProudPalinFan on April 29, 2010 at 9:06 PM

With the change listed allowing a vote for the status quo in the second round, I see ZERO problem with this. Seriously.

Red Cloud on April 29, 2010 at 9:14 PM

Meanwhile has the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, or Guam expressed any interest in applying for statehood? Sounds like now would be the time, especially if they ‘lean’ towards the democrat party.

I don’t know about the VI and Guam, but the only Samoans I’ve met are pretty conservative/libertarian thinkers. Then again, they were all Marines.

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on April 29, 2010 at 9:35 PM

ProudPalinFan on April 29, 2010 at 8:58 PM

Blame the liberals’ cult of Multiculturalism for that one. Regarding Hispanics, their strategy has always been “Unite and Conquer”. Which means, that by sheer numbers, there is an assumption that Hispanic=Mexican. Hence, I’m supposed to give a $**T about Cinco De Mayo and soccer.

Jorge Bonilla on April 29, 2010 at 9:52 PM

Why would Puerto Rico want statehood? As things stand now they have all the perks and none of the responsibilities. They’ve always voted it down before.

jeanie on April 29, 2010 at 9:57 PM

Jorge Bonilla on April 29, 2010 at 9:52 PM

As a result, the political classes see a vote on PR statehood as part of a greater push for amnesty. Since all Hispanics are subjugated to Mexico by default, all Hispanics will support pro-amnesty legislation…or so the flawed logic goes.

Jorge Bonilla on April 29, 2010 at 10:00 PM

Exactly, Jorge. Just like all women are supposed to fall into lockstep with Gloria Steinem, and all blacks are supposed to fall in line with Jesse and Al.

I think that’s why I’m so disappointed in the comments all over these threads – I expect better from conservatives than to do this sort of knee-jerk classification, especially without bothering to get any facts.

Mynuet on April 29, 2010 at 10:08 PM

I guess I’m just plain stupid. Hearing this for the first time about 2 days ago I was baffled. Why in the hell is this even happening? Is it just to pick up the Hispanic vote, assuming they will all be good democrats? Has there been some great outcry we have all missed?

New Patriot on April 29, 2010 at 10:10 PM

jeanie on April 29, 2010 at 9:57 PM

Mostly the social benefits. Puerto Rico has a very strong national identity (borders, language, culture), and has a great deal of difficulty reconciling it with its colonial status. Hence, its rejection of statehood and outright independence.

Jorge Bonilla on April 29, 2010 at 10:10 PM

Mynuet on April 29, 2010 at 10:08 PM

I can’t really blame the commenters, especially in the midst of this Obama onslaught. I’ve known about 2499 for months, but thought it dead, and even I questioned the timing in moving with this after Arizona passed SB 1070…so I can certainly understand an Anglo doing the same. The greater question is, what are we doing to counter these perceptions that you speak of?

Jorge Bonilla on April 29, 2010 at 10:21 PM

What the Dhimmicrats hear the Puerto Ricans saying is “RAISE MY TAXES!”

Mojave Mark on April 29, 2010 at 10:33 PM

1. How many times do I have to point out that this is not a “statehood bill”. This bill doesn’t let PR do anything they can’t already do under PR law. Even if they do end up voting to become a state, that doesn’t actually make them a state.

2. A lot of people were worried about the second plebescite in which keeping the status quo would not be an option – ie they would have to vote between statehood or complete independence. The Foxx amendment, which passed, fixes this. So the idea that there is going to be some trickery involved in the plebecite can be put to rest.

3. People have vaguely mentioned the “Tennessee Plan” which is all well and good except for 2 things. First off, that was back in the 1790s. Things don’t work that way anymore. Also, a while back DC tried to pull that stunt and Congress gave them the big fat finger which is why DC is still not a state and their “shadow reps” don’t vote.

4. Even if this was a vote to magically make PR a state, we should remember that self determination for PR has been a part of the Republican platform since at least Eisenhower. It’s not some brand spanking new idea to the party.

5. For everyone freaked out about how this is just a way to add Dems to Congress, it’s worth remembering that the PR Gov. legislative leadership, and about 3/4 of the mayors are Republicans. So it’s not a given that even if statehood happened it would to automatically add Democrat members to Congress.

This whole vote got blown way way way out of proportion. I can’t believe how up in arms people got about this when it was never what, God bless him, Glen Beck had people believing it was.

t.ferg on April 29, 2010 at 10:47 PM

To Hell with Puerto Rico, dude. The last thing we need is a state dominated by liberal, usually non English-speaking Hispanics, based on the fact of the usual, leftist direction in which Hispanics tend to vote.

“Hey, let’s import more liberalism! We can never have enough of that!”

If that’s what they want, they might as well annex Mexico and grant all their illegal immigrants blanket amnesty with citenship. Cut the Puerto Ricans loose NOW. Give them their walking papers in the form of total independance from America, and end their citizenship, voting, etc. Taking on a boatload of liberals in this day & age from anywhere is about as useful as a boat taking on water. Glen Beck isn’t racist, and neither am I, but I completely agree with him that this would serve no purpose, other than to poison the electorate pool and stupidly pander to domestic Hispanics as an ethnic bloc, simply in order to garner votes.

Virus-X on April 29, 2010 at 10:50 PM

Another prime example that republicans are idiots.

Fletch54 on April 29, 2010 at 11:03 PM

Honestly this will all just backfire on the Democrats in the end. They are in control and will reap the fallout. I hope PR becomes independent and go their own way. I think all nations needing our protection should pay for it, as not to burden citizens who do pay taxes. The rest of the world has to grow up and maintain their own armies to defend themselves. We have to put ourselves first for once!

Africanus on April 29, 2010 at 11:39 PM

Does anyone really believe that the people of Puerto Rico are going to want to be a state with all of the massive new insane taxes and punative personal controls the progressive democrats are ramming into law?

Think about it, they can sign up for 100k+ per person, and climbing, debt slapped squarely on their backs. Given the chance, they are going to duck out completely while the ducking is safe!

If you think they do not know what is going on, remember, they have an internet too!

What I am wondering is, after Puerto Rico goes solo, how many members of our legislature are planning on retiring there, away from the mess they are making of the US?

Freddy on April 29, 2010 at 11:49 PM

Jorge Bonilla on April 29, 2010 at 10:21 PM

I don’t know. At this point, I’m just mostly trying to stay calm, since having a fight between conservatives really does hand a win over to the other side from this whole mess. Having people cavalierly dismiss and alienate four million plus voters who live in the mainland US because of the potential that another four million people might someday get to vote in national elections… It’s frustrating.

It speaks to a lack of faith in the democratic process, and in conservatism. I can understand the concern over financial issues; I’d even agree that they’re cause to mull over whether to admit Puerto Rico into the union. Considering that Puerto Rico hasn’t even voted to apply, I think it’s a bit premature to engage in handwringing, but the financial drain on national resources is a point to consider and research – how much would welfare cost versus income tax and versus the taxes we do already pay? How much is that offset by the fact that four million American citizens do pay taxes (just not income taxes) without any representation?

The hysteria over the assumption that all Puerto Ricans would be liberals and vote that way just baffles me. Not only does it make an enormous assumption about Puerto Ricans specifically and Hispanics as a whole, it implies a complete lack of faith in conservative principles, the ability to convey those principles, and the democratic process.

Have we really come to the point where our solution to not getting votes from certain groups of people is to try to prevent them from voting? I’m not talking about people who don’t have the write to vote, like illegal aliens or felons, but legitimate American citizens who are entitled to all rights and privileges thereof. If we’re going to say, “We don’t want more Hispanics to vote because they don’t vote like we want them to,” how does that make us any different from the Obots? I thought we stood for liberty, freedom, and the Constitution – how do any of those justify the mindset of “don’t let them vote because they might not think like me!”?

Mynuet on April 29, 2010 at 11:52 PM

ProudPalinFan on April 29, 2010 at 8:54 PM

I just moved from Santurce after living there for five years. I never met anyone that identified with with Republicans. I reall doubt that they would vote for statehood either. (Although my bosses were statehooders)I personally think PR becoming a state would be very bad for the US and for PR.

flash044 on April 30, 2010 at 3:09 AM

Why would they want to board the Titanic after the iceberg?

hillbillyjim on April 30, 2010 at 5:03 AM

Hooray for Virginia Foxx’s amendment.

LFRGary on April 30, 2010 at 5:25 AM

Honestly this will all just backfire on the Democrats in the end. They are in control and will reap the fallout. I hope PR becomes independent and go their own way. I think all nations needing our protection should pay for it, as not to burden citizens who do pay taxes. The rest of the world has to grow up and maintain their own armies to defend themselves. We have to put ourselves first for once!

Africanus on April 29, 2010 at 11:39 PM

My very misinformed and probably Libtard Troll. Puerto Rico has an Army, a Navy, a Marine Corps and an Air Force. I had served proudly the US Army as both an officer and civilian employee for close to 30 years. PR like any other state, we have pay our membership in the union in the blood of our sons and daughters.

But thanks for trying to pass the blame for this boondoggle from the Dems in Congress to the Islanders. I suppose that you are trying to provide political cover for your masters. Like many others, you are probably surprised that PR can be Conservatives, Republicans and Libertarians.

BTW, just between us, can you even find PR in a map?

El Coqui on April 30, 2010 at 5:38 AM

ProudPalinFan on April 29, 2010 at 8:54 PM

I just moved from Santurce after living there for five years. I never met anyone that identified with with Republicans. I reall doubt that they would vote for statehood either. (Although my bosses were statehooders)I personally think PR becoming a state would be very bad for the US and for PR.

flash044 on April 30, 2010 at 3:09 AM

Wow, Santurce! :( That’s where my grandmother used to live
:( Well, I dunno which part of Santurce you lived at, but there’s like a mini-Dominican Republic area there, if I am not mistaken. I dunno if you were born and raised there, like I was from Carolina. I call myself an “exiled”, because after I married Mr. PPF and our son was born in Hato Rey, the new government came in, fired employees to put their own in.

Problem with this is, what Mr. PPF does is very rare. He works the heart-lung machine, so after being paid w/o work, as a good hard-working American like he is, he could not take it anymore and decided it was time for us to move here. It’s a major sacrifice for me, since I am alone here.

What hurts and ticks me off the worst, and I have cried twice (I just did to my mother-in-law), is this sense of awareness that even though I am an American, (I just cried to my children explaining the possibility that my family and friends are stripped from their American citizenship and take an oath to another country, or to the one that may be from Puerto Rico.

Let’s play “Truth And Dare”. I DARE all of you guys, that are proud of this country, that you love and cherish so much, that any of your family and friends are overseas, to allow to be stripped from being Americans and take and swear an oath to another country (for example, France or Spain), or help remake a country from scratch and take an oath to a citizenship that will be prepared.


ProudPalinFan on April 30, 2010 at 8:28 AM

El Coqui on April 30, 2010 at 5:38 AM

You forgot the US Coast Guard, that catches illegals going to PR and catch millions in drugs each year, aside from helping in disasters, and naval problems.

ProudPalinFan on April 30, 2010 at 8:31 AM

Right now I am in the middle of getting the kids ready for school; I forgot to add that the US Coast Guard, along with our police and SWAT teams, help those drugs that they catch to make it to the US.

So, yeah, more drugs for you, too./sarc

ProudPalinFan on April 30, 2010 at 8:35 AM

You don’t understand. or maybe I don’t … as I read it they only need 34% to vote for statehood and it’s a done deal. 40% support statehood so I believe it’s a done deal. A minority will decide the fate of the majority. Sure there are Puerto Ricans posting that support statehood. I’m in favor of it myself IF THE MAJORITY WANT IT. But not like this. This back dooring will not go over well on that island.

BrideOfRove on April 30, 2010 at 8:51 AM

The devil is in the PLURALITY details of the second part of the vote.

BrideOfRove on April 30, 2010 at 8:52 AM

The devil is in the PLURALITY details of the second part of the vote.

BrideOfRove on April 30, 2010 at 8:52 AM

I can respond that over there, by reading the comments, and by yeeeaarrssss of living there, in order for the island to change course is that they would like a supermajority, meaning more than 50% of the people. That’s the way they believe it’s the best.

The plurarity of choice of the second part of the vote is good, because the status quo party, the Popular Democratic Party won’t have the excuse that this is skewed towards statehood or independence (which it seems there is a problem or a misunderstanding). That’s why in a prior comment I made (either here or read it there in their comments), the statehooders are kinda satisfied, even though I and many thousands of others, want a cut and dry one vote statehood or independence.

That would shock this country as much as it would shock there. I guarantee you, that less than 50% majority would have the people in a tizzy.

ProudPalinFan on April 30, 2010 at 9:12 AM

HEY I know….let’s just offer statehood to Mexico too! Then there is no illegal immigration issue! The Mexican government already patrols their borders with South America and actually ENFORCES their illegal immigration laws!

Oh, wait, that means all of us who bust our asses everyday to support the Democrap voters who are lounging on their dead asses going to rallies saying “raise my taxes” or sitting in their parents basement surfing porn and blogging all day, would have even MORE entitlement babies to carry…nevermind…my bad.

PatriotPete on April 30, 2010 at 9:17 AM

I lived there for five years in Aguadilla and drove every inch of that island, gave birth there in Mayaguez. I got to know it very well as president of a womens charity and president of a PTA. I dove in there full tilt when we moved to Puerto Rico. The way I read this, More than half will vote for change as the statehooders and the independistas will agree so part one? Done deal. Part Two? Only 34% have to agree on statehood and they definitely have that especially with the stateside people voting. The minority will rule the majority and that way there be dragons. Commonwealth has a majority but it is not enough to stop this from happening as far as I can tell.

BrideOfRove on April 30, 2010 at 9:24 AM

I was a little worried (being somewhat ignorant on PR in general) but now I’m cool with it. The PR friends I have are pretty conservative as well. Hey and then Cuba could be next. Although we’d have to flick that ash named Castro off the end of the cigar first. Personally I think we should ask the Phillipines if they want statehood while we’re at it. Coarse I’m biased toward my wife and MM.
Expand, baby, expand!

MechEng5by5 on April 30, 2010 at 9:24 AM

MechEng5by5 on April 30, 2010 at 9:24 AM

Your PR Friends in the US pay taxes, theoretically, and live with actual laws. That is not the case on the island for the majority of Puerto Ricans. They work for cash under the table. they buy goods in cash to avoid paying taxes. They buy property for less on paper to pay less taxes and then pay the rest in cash under the table.

hell. they have a 120 day school year cut short by a full month last year because they were too broke to pay teh teachers. The US Govt mandates 180 school days. Puerto Ricans would have to extend their school year to comply and that would just be the first if the mandates raining down of a population used to laws written in pencil comfortable with corruptions Chicago would weep with joy to emulate successfully.

You have no idea, and why should you? Puerto Ricans living stateside want to yank the island kicking and screaming into the modern age but there is a reason the people who live there stay there and it’s not because they want to be a state.

BrideOfRove on April 30, 2010 at 9:30 AM

Pardon typos – rushing to get to work.

BrideOfRove on April 30, 2010 at 9:31 AM

If PR becomes a state, they would no longer have a separate Olympic team. American Samoa, Guam, and the United States Virgin Islands also have their own separate Olympic teams. The Puerto Rican team actually participated at the 1980 Moscow games.

I don’t know why more American athletes don’t take advantage of this. If you know you are going to fall short in qualifying for the Olympics stateside, why not try to compete under the bandera boriqueña, especially in sports *cough*winter sports*cough* that aren’t very popular on the Isla del Encanto.

Greek Fire on April 30, 2010 at 9:43 AM

Didn’t statehood get 49% of the vote in the the last referendum?

Falz on April 30, 2010 at 11:34 AM