Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2499 - the "Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2010" - by a vote of 223-169. 184 Democrats and 39 Republicans voted aye, while 129 Republicans and 40 Democrats voted nay. One Democrat voted present, and 39 representatives (28 Democrats and 9 Republicans) were not present to vote.
Congressmen Dan Boren (D, OK-2), Frank Lucas (R, OK-3) and John Sullivan (R, OK-1) voted against the measure, while only Rep. Tom Cole (R, OK-4) voted in favor. Rep. Mary Fallin was a co-sponsor of the resolution, but missed the vote due to an emergency dental surgery in Oklahoma.
Her campaign issued the following statement upon request:
"Mary Fallin does not support Puerto Rican statehood and neither do the people of Puerto Rico. The bill Mary co-sponsored (HR 2499) gives the people of Puerto Rico another chance to affirm their desire NOT to be a state, rather than allowing Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barack Obama and the Democrat Congress to dictate to them their political future.
Here's why liberty-minded conservatives in Congress, including members like Dr. Ron Paul and GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence, are supporting this bill:
The Enabling Clause of the Constitution empowers Congress to grant statehood with a super majority, which Speaker Pelosi already has in the House and the Senate is one vote shy of. So if Speaker Pelosi woke up tomorrow and wanted to make Puerto Rico a state, she could write a bill and pass it through the House with no problem -- handing over, in all likelihood, more Democrat seats in the House and Senate. What HR 2499 does is to add an extra step that could help prevent a Democrat supermajority from doing this against the will of Americans and Puerto Ricans. Under this bill, Puerto Ricans would first have to vote on their own to become a state before Congress could grant them statehood. With the passage of HR 2499, Congress could not force Puerto Rico into statehood until it held a vote to become a state -- an outcome that is very unlikely, given that past votes on statehood have all overwhelmingly failed."
You can view the specific language of the resolution here (pdf).
The measure authorizes Puerto Rico to conduct a vote on their political status, to take place in a two-step process.
Step one would have two options:
- "Puerto Rico should continue to have its present form of political status. If you agree, mark here XX."
- Puerto Rico should have a different political status. If you agree, mark here XX.'.
Step two would include the following voting options:
- Independence: Puerto Rico should become fully independent from the United States. If you agree, mark here XX.
- Sovereignty in Association with the United States: Puerto Rico and the United States should form a political association between sovereign nations that will not be subject to the Territorial Clause of the United States Constitution. If you agree, mark here XX.
- Statehood: Puerto Rico should be admitted as a State of the Union. If you agree, mark here XX.
- Commonwealth: Puerto Rico should continue to have its present form of political status. If you agree, mark here XX.