Summary: H.R.856 — 105th Congress (1997-1998)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (03/04/1998)

United States-Puerto Rico Political Status Act - Declares that: (1) if the referendum held under this Act results in approval of sovereignty leading to Statehood for Puerto Rico, the English language requirements of the Federal Government shall apply to Puerto Rico to the same extent as Federal law requires throughout the United States; and (2) it is in the best interest of Puerto Rico to promote the teaching of English as the language of opportunity and empowerment in the United States in order to enable public school students to achieve English language proficiency by the age of ten.

Requires a referendum to be held by December 31, 1998, on Puerto Rico's political status, for either: (1) retention of its present Commonwealth status; (2) full self-government through separate sovereignty leading to independence or free association; or (3) full self-government through U.S. sovereignty leading to statehood.

Requires the President to develop and submit to the Congress for approval legislation for: (1) a transition plan of not more than ten years which leads to full self-government for Puerto Rico; and (2) a recommendation for the implementation of such self-government consistent with Puerto Rico's approval. Requires the transition plan, if the vote favors statehood, to: (1) include proposals and incentives to increase the opportunities of the people of Puerto Rico to expand their English proficiency, including teaching in English in public schools, awarding fellowships and scholarships, and providing grants to organizations to promote English language skills; (2) promote the use of English by U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico; and (3) include the effective date of Puerto Rico's incorporation into the United States. Authorizes the Government of Puerto Rico, in the event of a vote in favor of Commonwealth, to call a Special Convention to develop proposals for submission to the President and the Congress for changes in Federal policy on economic and social matters of concern to the Puerto Rican people.

Authorizes further referenda, at least once every ten years, if the referendum conducted under this Act does not result in a majority vote for separate sovereignty or statehood.

Sets forth specified requirements with respect to the referendum and congressional procedures for consideration of legislation.

Makes funds available for the referendum, including those derived from the Federal excise tax on foreign rum. Requires the Government of Puerto Rico to make grants to the State Elections Commission of Puerto Rico for referenda held under this Act.