Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?
105th Congress                                            Rept. 105-131
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 1st Session                                                     Part 1
_______________________________________________________________________


 
             UNITED STATES-PUERTO RICO POLITICAL STATUS ACT

                                _______
                                

                 June 12, 1997.--Ordered to be printed

_______________________________________________________________________


  Mr. Young of Alaska, from the Committee on Resources, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 856]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Resources, to whom was referred the bill 
(H.R. 856) to provide a process leading to full self-government 
for Puerto Rico, having considered the same, report favorably 
thereon with an amendment and recommend that the bill as 
amended do pass.
  The amendment is as follows:
  Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu 
thereof the following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

  (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``United States-Puerto 
Rico Political Status Act''.
  (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents for this Act is as 
follows:

Sec. 1. Short title, table of contents.
Sec. 2. Findings.
Sec. 3. Policy.
Sec. 4. Process for Puerto Rican full self-government, including the 
initial decision stage, transition stage, and implementation stage.
Sec. 5. Requirements relating to referenda, including inconclusive 
referendum and applicable laws.
Sec. 6. Congressional procedures for consideration of legislation.
Sec. 7. Availability of funds for the referenda.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

  The Congress finds the following:
          (1) Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States and came under 
        this Nation's sovereignty pursuant to the Treaty of Paris 
        ending the Spanish-American War in 1898. Article IX of the 
        Treaty of Paris recognized the authority of Congress to provide 
        for the political status of the inhabitants of the territory.
          (2) Consistent with establishment of United States 
        nationality for inhabitants of Puerto Rico under the Treaty of 
        Paris, Congress has exercised its powers under the Territorial 
        Clause of the Constitution (article IV, section 3, clause 2) to 
        provide by several statutes beginning in 1917, for the United 
        States citizenship status of persons born in Puerto Rico.
          (3) Consistent with the Territorial Clause and rulings of the 
        United States Supreme Court, partial application of the United 
        States Constitution has been established in the unincorporated 
        territories of the United States including Puerto Rico.
          (4) In 1950, Congress prescribed a procedure for instituting 
        internal self-government for Puerto Rico pursuant to statutory 
        authorization for a local constitution. A local constitution 
        was approved by the people of Puerto Rico, conditionally 
        approved by Congress, subject to congressionally required 
        amendment by Puerto Rico, and thereupon given effect in 1952 
        after acceptance of congressional conditions by the Puerto Rico 
        Constitutional Convention and an appropriate proclamation by 
        the Governor. The approved constitution established the 
        structure for constitutional government in respect of internal 
        affairs without altering Puerto Rico's fundamental political, 
        social, and economic relationship with the United States and 
        without restricting the authority of Congress under the 
        Territorial Clause to determine the application of Federal law 
        to Puerto Rico, resulting in the present ``Commonwealth'' 
        structure for local self-government. The Commonwealth remains 
        an unincorporated territory and does not have the status of 
        ``free association'' with the United States as that status is 
        defined under United States law or international practice.
          (5) In 1953, the United States transmitted to the Secretary-
        General of the United Nations for circulation to its Members a 
        formal notification that the United States no longer would 
        transmit information regarding Puerto Rico to the United 
        Nations pursuant to Article 73(e) of its Charter. The formal 
        United States notification document informed the United Nations 
        that the cessation of information on Puerto Rico was based on 
        the ``new constitutional arrangements'' in the territory, and 
        the United States expressly defined the scope of the ``full 
        measure'' of local self-government in Puerto Rico as extending 
        to matters of ``internal government and administration, subject 
        only to compliance with applicable provisions of the Federal 
        Constitution, the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act and the 
        acts of Congress authorizing and approving the Constitution, as 
        may be interpreted by judicial decision.''. Thereafter, the 
        General Assembly of the United Nations, based upon consent of 
        the inhabitants of the territory and the United States 
        explanation of the new status as approved by Congress, adopted 
        Resolution 748 (VIII) by a vote of 22 to 18 with 19 
        abstentions, thereby accepting the United States determination 
        to cease reporting to the United Nations on the status of 
        Puerto Rico.
          (6) In 1960, the United Nations General Assembly approved 
        Resolution 1541 (XV), clarifying that under United Nations 
        standards regarding the political status options available to 
        the people of territories yet to complete the process for 
        achieving full self-government, the three established forms of 
        full self-government are national independence, free 
        association based on separate sovereignty, or full integration 
        with another nation on the basis of equality.
          (7) The ruling of the United States Supreme Court in the 1980 
        case Harris v. Rosario (446 U.S. 651) confirmed that Congress 
        continues to exercise authority over Puerto Rico as territory 
        ``belonging to the United States'' pursuant to the Territorial 
        Clause found at Article IV, section 3, clause 2 of the United 
        States Constitution; and in the 1982 case of Rodriguez v. 
        Popular Democratic Party (457 U.S. 1), the Court confirmed that 
        the Congress delegated powers of administration to the 
        Commonwealth of Puerto Rico sufficient for it to function 
        ``like a State'' and as ``an autonomous political entity'' in 
        respect of internal affairs and administration, pending further 
        disposition by Congress. These rulings constitute judicial 
        interpretation of Puerto Rico's status which is in accordance 
        with the clear intent of Congress that establishment of local 
        constitutional government in 1952 did not alter Puerto Rico's 
        status as an unincorporated United States territory.
          (8) In a joint letter dated January 17, 1989, cosigned by the 
        Governor of Puerto Rico in his capacity as president of one of 
        Puerto Rico's principal political parties and the presidents of 
        the two other principal political parties of Puerto Rico, the 
        United States was formally advised that ``. . . the People of 
        Puerto Rico wish to be consulted as to their preference with 
        regards to their ultimate political status'', and the joint 
        letter stated ``. . . that since Puerto Rico came under the 
        sovereignty of the United States of America through the Treaty 
        of Paris in 1898, the People of Puerto Rico have not been 
        formally consulted by the United States of America as to their 
        choice of their ultimate political status''.
          (9) In the 1989 State of the Union Message, President George 
        Bush urged the Congress to take the necessary steps to 
        authorize a federally recognized process allowing the people of 
        Puerto Rico, for the first time since the Treaty of Paris 
        entered into force, to freely express their wishes regarding 
        their future political status in a congressionally recognized 
        referendum, a step in the process of self-determination which 
        the Congress has yet to authorize.
          (10) On November 14, 1993, the Government of Puerto Rico 
        conducted a plebiscite initiated under local law on Puerto 
        Rico's political status. In that vote none of the three status 
        propositions received a majority of the votes cast. The results 
        of that vote were: 48.6 percent for a commonwealth option, 46.3 
        percent statehood, and 4.4 percent independence.
          (11) In a letter dated December 2, 1994, President William 
        Jefferson Clinton informed leaders in Congress that an 
        Executive Branch Interagency Working Group on Puerto Rico had 
        been organized to coordinate the review, development, and 
        implementation of executive branch policy concerning issues 
        affecting Puerto Rico, including the November 1993 plebiscite.
          (12) Under the Territorial Clause of the Constitution, 
        Congress has the authority and responsibility to determine 
        Federal policy and clarify status issues in order to resolve 
        the issue of Puerto Rico's final status.
          (13) On January 23, 1997, the Puerto Rico Legislature enacted 
        Concurrent Resolution 2, which requested the 105th Congress ``. 
        . . to respond to the democratic aspirations of the American 
        citizens of Puerto Rico'' by approving legislation authorizing 
        ``. . . a plebiscite sponsored by the Federal Government, to be 
        held no later than 1998''.
          (14) Nearly 4,000,000 United States citizens live in the 
        islands of Puerto Rico, which have been under United States 
        sovereignty and within the United States customs territory for 
        almost 100 years, making Puerto Rico the oldest, largest, and 
        most populous United States island territory at the 
        southeastern-most boundary of our Nation, located astride the 
        strategic shipping lanes of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean 
        Sea.
          (15) Full self-government for Puerto Rico is attainable only 
        through establishment of a political status which is based on 
        either separate Puerto Rican sovereignty and nationality or 
        full and equal United States nationality and citizenship 
        through membership in the Union and under which Puerto Rico is 
        no longer an unincorporated territory subject to the plenary 
        authority of Congress arising from the Territorial Clause.

SEC. 3. POLICY.

  (a) Congressional Commitment.--In recognition of the significant 
level of local self-government which has been attained by Puerto Rico, 
and the responsibility of the Federal Government to enable the people 
of the territory to freely express their wishes regarding political 
status and achieve full self-government, this Act is adopted with a 
commitment to encourage the development and implementation of 
procedures through which the permanent political status of the people 
of Puerto Rico can be determined.
  (b) Language.--English shall be the common language of mutual 
understanding in the United States, and shall apply in all of the 
States duly and freely admitted to the Union. The Congress recognizes 
that at the present time, Spanish and English are the joint official 
languages of Puerto Rico, and have been for nearly 100 years; that 
English is the official language of Federal courts in Puerto Rico; that 
the ability to speak English is a requirement for Federal jury 
services; yet Spanish rather than English is currently the predominant 
language used by the majority of the people of Puerto Rico; and that 
Congress has the authority to expand existing English language 
requirements in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. In the event that the 
referenda held under this Act result in approval of sovereignty leading 
to Statehood, it is anticipated that upon accession to Statehood, 
English language requirements of the Federal Government shall apply in 
Puerto Rico to the same extent as Federal law requires throughout the 
United States. Congress also recognizes the significant advantage that 
proficiency in Spanish as well as English has bestowed on the people of 
Puerto Rico, and further that this will serve the best interests of 
both Puerto Rico and the rest of the United States in our mutual 
dealings in the Caribbean, Latin America, and throughout the Spanish-
speaking world.

SEC. 4. PROCESS FOR PUERTO RICAN FULL SELF-GOVERNMENT, INCLUDING THE 
                    INITIAL DECISION STAGE, TRANSITION STAGE, AND 
                    IMPLEMENTATION STAGE.

  (a) Initial Decision Stage.--A referendum on Puerto Rico's political 
status is authorized to be held not later than December 31, 1998. The 
referendum shall be held pursuant to this Act and in accordance with 
the applicable provisions of Puerto Rico's electoral law and other 
relevant statutes consistent with this Act. Approval of a status option 
must be by a majority of the valid votes cast. The referendum shall be 
on the approval of 1 of the 3 options presented on the ballot as 
follows:
  ``Instructions: Mark the status option you choose as each is defined 
below. Ballot with more than 1 option marked will not be counted.
  ``A. Commonwealth.--If you agree, mark here ______
  ``Puerto Rico should retain Commonwealth, in which--
          ``(1) Puerto Rico continues the present Commonwealth 
        structure for constitutional self-government with respect to 
        internal affairs and administration;
          ``(2) Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the 
        United States, and the provisions of the Constitution and laws 
        of the United States, including those provisions for rights, 
        privileges, and immunities of United States citizens, apply to 
        Puerto Rico as determined by Congress;
          ``(3) persons born in Puerto Rico have statutory United 
        States nationality and citizenship as prescribed by Congress;
          ``(4) the qualified voters of Puerto Rico elect a nonvoting 
        Resident Commissioner to the United States who serves in the 
        House of Representatives;
          ``(5) the levels of Federal benefits and taxes extended to 
        the residents of Puerto Rico are established by Federal law as 
        deemed equitable by Congress;
          ``(6) Puerto Rico uses the currency of the United States, is 
        within the United States customs territory and defense system, 
        and English language requirements of the Federal Government 
        apply, as provided by Federal law;
          ``(7) the extension, continuation, modification, and 
        termination of Federal law and policy applicable to Puerto Rico 
        and its residents is within the discretion of Congress; and
          ``(8) the ultimate status of Puerto Rico will be established 
        through a process authorized by Congress which includes self-
        determination by the residents of Puerto Rico in periodic 
        referenda.
  ``B. Separate Sovereignty.--If you agree, mark here ______
  ``The people of Puerto Rico should become fully self-governing 
through separate sovereignty in the form of independence or free 
association, in which--
          ``(1) Puerto Rico is a sovereign Republic which has full 
        authority and responsibility over its territory and population 
        under a constitution which is the supreme law, providing for a 
        republican form of government and the protection of human 
        rights;
          ``(2) the Republic of Puerto Rico is a member of the 
        community of nations vested with full powers and 
        responsibilities for its own fiscal and monetary policy, 
        immigration, trade, and the conduct in its own name and right 
        of relations with other nations and international 
        organizations;
          ``(3) the people of Puerto Rico owe allegiance to and have 
        the nationality and citizenship of the Republic of Puerto Rico;
          ``(4) the Constitution and laws of the United States no 
        longer apply in Puerto Rico, and United States sovereignty in 
        Puerto Rico is ended; thereupon birth in Puerto Rico or 
        relationship to persons with statutory United States 
        citizenship by birth in the former territory shall cease to be 
        a basis for United States nationality or citizenship, except 
        that persons who had such United States citizenship have a 
        statutory right to retain United States nationality and 
        citizenship for life, by entitlement or election as provided by 
        the United States Congress, based on continued allegiance to 
        the United States: Provided, That such persons will not have 
        this statutory United States nationality and citizenship status 
        upon having or maintaining allegiance, nationality, and 
        citizenship rights in any sovereign nation, including the 
        Republic of Puerto Rico, other than the United States;
          ``(5) the previously vested rights of individuals in Puerto 
        Rico to benefits based upon past services rendered or 
        contributions made to the United States shall be honored by the 
        United States as provided by Federal law;
          ``(6) Puerto Rico and the United States seek to develop 
        friendly and cooperative relations in matters of mutual 
        interest as agreed in treaties approved pursuant to their 
        respective constitutional processes, and laws including 
        economic and programmatic assistance at levels and for a 
        reasonable period as provided on a government-to-government 
        basis, trade between customs territories, transit of citizens 
        in accordance with immigration laws, and status of United 
        States military forces; and
          ``(7) a free association relationship may be established 
        based on separate sovereign republic status as defined above, 
        but with such delegations of some government functions and 
        other cooperative arrangements as agreed to by both parties 
        under a bilateral pact terminable at will by either the United 
        States or Puerto Rico.
  ``C. Statehood.--If you agree, mark here ______
  ``Puerto Rico should become fully self governing through Statehood, 
in which--
          ``(1) the people of Puerto Rico are fully self-governing with 
        their rights secured under the United States Constitution, 
        which shall be fully applicable in Puerto Rico and which, with 
        the laws and treaties of the United States, is the supreme law 
        and has the same force and effect as in the other States of the 
        Union;
          ``(2) the sovereign State of Puerto Rico is in permanent 
        union with the United States, and powers not delegated to the 
        United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by the 
        Constitution to the States, are reserved to the State of Puerto 
        Rico or to the people;
          ``(3) United States citizenship of those born in Puerto Rico 
        is guaranteed, protected and secured in the same way it is for 
        all United States citizens born in the other States;
          ``(4) the people of Puerto Rico have equal rights, 
        privileges, immunities, and benefits as well as equal duties 
        and responsibilities of citizenship, including payment of 
        Federal taxes, as those in the several States;
          ``(5) Puerto Rico is represented by two members in the United 
        States Senate and is represented in the House of 
        Representatives proportionate to the population;
          ``(6) United States citizens in Puerto Rico are enfranchised 
        to vote in elections for the President and Vice President of 
        the United States; and
          ``(7) English is the official language of business and 
        communication in Federal courts and Federal agencies as made 
        applicable by Federal law to every other State, and Puerto Rico 
        is enabled to expand and build upon existing law establishing 
        English as an official language of the State government, 
        courts, and agencies.''.
  (b) Transition Stage.--
          (1) Plan.--(A) Within 180 days of the receipt of the results 
        of the referendum from the Government of Puerto Rico certifying 
        approval of a ballot choice of full self-government in a 
        referendum held pursuant to subsection (a), the President shall 
        develop and submit to Congress legislation for a transition 
        plan of not more than 10 years which leads to full self-
        government for Puerto Rico consistent with the terms of this 
        Act and the results of the referendum and in consultation with 
        officials of the three branches of the Government of Puerto 
        Rico, the principal political parties of Puerto Rico, and other 
        interested persons as may be appropriate.
          (B) Additionally, in the event of a vote in favor of separate 
        sovereignty, the Legislature of Puerto Rico, if deemed 
        appropriate, may provide by law for the calling of a 
        constituent convention to formulate, in accordance with 
        procedures prescribed by law, Puerto Rico's proposals and 
        recommendations to implement the referendum results. If a 
        convention is called for this purpose, any proposals and 
        recommendations formally adopted by such convention within time 
        limits of this Act shall be transmitted to Congress by the 
        President with the transition plan required by this section, 
        along with the views of the President regarding the 
        compatibility of such proposals and recommendations with the 
        United States Constitution and this Act, and identifying which, 
        if any, of such proposals and recommendations have been 
        addressed in the President's proposed transition plan.
          (C) Additionally, in the event of a vote in favor of United 
        States sovereignty leading to Statehood, the President shall 
        include in the transition plan provided for in this Act--
                  (i) proposals and incentives to increase the 
                opportunities of the people of Puerto Rico to learn to 
                speak, read, write, and understand English fully, 
                including but not limited to, the teaching of English 
                in public schools, fellowships, and scholarships. The 
                transition plan should promote the usage of English by 
                the United States citizens of Puerto Rico, in order to 
                best allow for--
                          (I) the enhancement of the century old 
                        practice of English as an official language of 
                        Puerto Rico, consistent with the preservation 
                        of our Nation's unity in diversity and the 
                        prevention of divisions along linguistic lines;
                          (II) the use of language skills necessary to 
                        contribute most effectively to the Nation in 
                        all aspects, including but not limited to 
                        Hemispheric trade, and for citizens to enjoy 
                        the full rights and benefits of their 
                        citizenship;
                          (III) the promotion of efficiency and 
                        fairness to all people in the conduct of the 
                        Federal and State government's official 
                        business; and
                          (IV) the ability of all citizens to take full 
                        advantage of the economical, educational, and 
                        occupational opportunities through full 
                        integration with the United States; and
                  (ii) the effective date upon which the Constitution 
                shall have the same force and effect in Puerto Rico as 
                in the several States, thereby permitting the greatest 
                degree of flexibility for the phase-in of Federal 
                programs and the development of the economy through 
                fiscal incentives, alternative tax arrangements, and 
                other measures.
          (2) Congressional consideration.--The plan shall be 
        considered by the Congress in accordance with section 6.
          (3) Puerto rican approval.--
                  (A) Not later than 180 days after enactment of an Act 
                pursuant to paragraph (1) providing for the transition 
                to full self-government for Puerto Rico as approved in 
                the initial decision referendum held under subsection 
                (a), a referendum shall be held under the applicable 
                provisions of Puerto Rico's electoral law on the 
                question of approval of the transition plan.
                  (B) Approval must be by a majority of the valid votes 
                cast. The results of the referendum shall be certified 
                to the President of the United States.
  (c) Implementation Stage.--
          (1) Presidential recommendation.--Not less than two years 
        prior to the end of the period of the transition provided for 
        in the transition plan approved under subsection (b), the 
        President shall submit to Congress a joint resolution with a 
        recommendation for the date of termination of the transition 
        and the date of implementation of full self-government for 
        Puerto Rico within the transition period consistent with the 
        ballot choice approved under subsection (a).
          (2) Congressional consideration.--The joint resolution shall 
        be considered by the Congress in accordance with section 6.
          (3) Puerto rican approval.--
                  (A) Within 180 days after enactment of the terms of 
                implementation for full self-government for Puerto 
                Rico, a referendum shall be held under the applicable 
                provisions of Puerto Rico's electoral laws on the 
                question of the approval of the terms of implementation 
                for full self-government for Puerto Rico.
                  (B) Approval must be by a majority of the valid votes 
                cast. The results of the referendum shall be certified 
                to the President of the United States.

SEC. 5. REQUIREMENTS RELATING TO REFERENDA, INCLUDING INCONCLUSIVE 
                    REFERENDUM AND APPLICABLE LAWS.

  (a) Applicable Laws.--
          (1) Referenda under puerto rican laws.--The referenda held 
        under this Act shall be conducted in accordance with the 
        applicable laws of Puerto Rico, including laws of Puerto Rico 
        under which voter eligibility is determined and which require 
        United States citizenship and establish other statutory 
        requirements for voter eligibility of residents and 
        nonresidents.
          (2) Federal laws.--The Federal laws applicable to the 
        election of the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico shall, as 
        appropriate and consistent with this Act, also apply to the 
        referenda. Any reference in such Federal laws to elections 
        shall be considered, as appropriate, to be a reference to the 
        referenda, unless it would frustrate the purposes of this Act.
  (b) Certification of Referenda Results.--The results of each 
referendum held under this Act shall be certified to the President of 
the United States and the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States by the Government of Puerto Rico.
  (c) Consultation and Recommendations for Inconclusive Referendum.--
          (1) In general.--If a referendum provided in section 4(b) or 
        (c) of this Act does not result in approval of a fully self-
        governing status, the President, in consultation with officials 
        of the three branches of the Government of Puerto Rico, the 
        principal political parties of Puerto Rico, and other 
        interested persons as may be appropriate, shall make 
        recommendations to the Congress within 180 days of receipt of 
        the results of the referendum regarding completion of the self-
        determination process for Puerto Rico under the authority of 
        Congress.
          (2) Additional referenda.--To ensure that the Congress is 
        able on a continuing basis to exercise its Territorial Clause 
        powers with due regard for the wishes of the people of Puerto 
        Rico respecting resolution of Puerto Rico's permanent future 
        political status, in the event that a referendum conducted 
        under section 4(a) does not result in a majority vote for 
        separate sovereignty or statehood, there is authorized to be 
        further referenda in accordance with this Act, but not less 
        than once every 10 years.

SEC. 6. CONGRESSIONAL PROCEDURES FOR CONSIDERATION OF LEGISLATION.

  (a) In General.--The majority leader of the House of Representatives 
(or his designee) and the majority leader of the Senate (or his 
designee) shall each introduce legislation (by request) providing for 
the transition plan under section 4(b) and the implementation 
recommendation under section 4(c) not later than 5 legislative days 
after the date of receipt by Congress of the submission by the 
President under that section, as the case may be.
  (b) Referral.--The legislation shall be referred on the date of 
introduction to the appropriate committee or committees in accordance 
with rules of the respective Houses. The legislation shall be reported 
not later than the 120th calendar day after the date of its 
introduction. If any such committee fails to report the bill within 
that period, that committee shall be automatically discharged from 
consideration of the legislation, and the legislation shall be placed 
on the appropriate calendar.
  (c) Consideration.--
          (1) After the 14th legislative day after the date on which 
        the last committee of the House of Representatives or the 
        Senate, as the case may be, has reported or been discharged 
        from further consideration of such legislation, it is in order 
        after the legislation has been on the calendar for 14 
        legislative days for any Member of that House in favor of the 
        legislation to move to proceed to the consideration of the 
        legislation (after consultation with the presiding officer of 
        that House as to scheduling) to move to proceed to its 
        consideration at any time after the third legislative day on 
        which the Member announces to the respective House concerned 
        the Member's intention to do so. All points of order against 
        the motion to proceed and against consideration of that motion 
        are waived. The motion is highly privileged in the House of 
        Representatives and is privileged in the Senate and is not 
        debatable. The motion is not subject to amendment, or to a 
        motion to postpone, or to a motion to proceed to the 
        consideration of other business. A motion to reconsider the 
        vote by which the motion is agreed to or disagreed to shall not 
        be in order. If a motion to proceed to the consideration of the 
        legislation is agreed to, the respective House shall 
        immediately proceed to consideration of the legislation without 
        intervening motion (exception one motion to adjourn), order, or 
        other business.
          (2)(A) In the House of Representatives, during consideration 
        of the legislation in the Committee of the Whole, the first 
        reading of the legislation shall be dispensed with. General 
        debate shall be confined to the legislation, and shall not 
        exceed 4 hours equally divided and controlled by a proponent 
        and an opponent of the legislation. After general debate, the 
        legislation shall be considered as read for amendment under the 
        five-minute rule. Consideration of the legislation for 
        amendment shall not exceed 4 hours excluding time for recorded 
        votes and quorum calls. At the conclusion of the bill for 
        amendment, the Committee shall rise and report the bill to the 
        House with such amendments as may have been adopted. The 
        previous question shall be considered as ordered on the 
        legislation and amendments thereto to final passage without 
        intervening motion, except one motion to recommit with or 
        without instructions. A motion to reconsider the vote on 
        passage of the legislation shall not be in order.
          (B) In the Senate, debate on the legislation, and all 
        amendments thereto and debatable motions and appeals in 
        connection therewith, shall be limited to not more than 25 
        hours. The time shall be equally divided between, and 
        controlled by, the majority leader and the minority leader or 
        their designees. No amendment that is not germane to the 
        provisions of such legislation shall be received. A motion to 
        further limit debate is not debatable.
          (3) Appeals from the decisions of the Chair relating to the 
        application of the rules of the Senate or the House of 
        Representatives, as the case may be, to the procedure relating 
        to the legislation described in subsection (a) shall be decided 
        without debate.
  (d) Consideration by Other House.--(1) If, before the passage by one 
House of the legislation described in subsection (a) that was 
introduced in that House, that House receives from the other House the 
legislation described in subsection (a)--
          (A) the legislation of the other House shall not be referred 
        to a committee and may not be considered in the House that 
        receives it otherwise than on final passage under subparagraph 
        (B)(ii) or (iii); and
          (B)(i) the procedure in the House that receives such 
        legislation with respect to such legislation that was 
        introduced in that House shall be the same as if no legislation 
        had been received from the other House; but
          (ii) in the case of legislation received from the other House 
        that is identical to the legislation as engrossed by the 
        receiving House, the vote on final passage shall be on the 
        legislation of the other House; or
          (iii) after passage of the legislation, the legislation of 
        the other House shall be considered as amended with the text of 
        the legislation just passed and shall be considered as passed, 
        and that House shall be considered to have insisted on its 
        amendment and requested a conference with the other House.
  (2) Upon disposition of the legislation described in subsection (a) 
that is received by one House from the other House, it shall no longer 
be in order to consider such legislation that was introduced in the 
receiving House.
  (e) Upon receiving from the other House a message in which that House 
insists upon its amendment to the legislation and requests a conference 
with the House of Representatives or the Senate, as the case may be, on 
the disagreeing votes thereon, the House receiving the request shall be 
considered to have disagreed to the amendment of the other House and 
agreed to the conference requested by that House.
  (f) Definition.--For the purposes of this section, the term 
``legislative day'' means a day on which the House of Representatives 
or the Senate, as appropriate, is in session.
  (g) Exercise of Rulemaking Power.--The provisions of this section are 
enacted by the Congress--
          (1) as an exercise of the rulemaking power of the Senate and 
        the House of Representatives and, as such, shall be considered 
        as part of the rules of each House and shall supersede other 
        rules only to the extent that they are inconsistent therewith; 
        and
          (2) with full recognition of the constitutional right of 
        either House to change the rules (so far as they relate to the 
        procedures of that House) at any time, in the same manner, and 
        to the same extent as in the case of any other rule of that 
        House.

SEC. 7. AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS FOR THE REFERENDA.

  (a) In General.--
          (1) Availability of amounts derived from tax on foreign 
        rum.--During the period beginning October 1, 1997, and ending 
        on the date the President determines that all referenda 
        required by this Act have been held, from the amounts covered 
        into the treasury of Puerto Rico under section 7652(e)(1) of 
        the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, the Secretary of the 
        Treasury--
                  (A) upon request and in the amounts identified from 
                time to time by the President, shall make the amounts 
                so identified available to the treasury of Puerto Rico 
                for the purposes specified in subsection (b); and
                  (B) shall transfer all remaining amounts to the 
                treasury of Puerto Rico, as under current law.
          (2) Report of referenda expenditures.--Within 180 days after 
        each referendum required by this Act, and after the end of the 
        period specified in paragraph (1), the President, in 
        consultation with the Government of Puerto Rico, shall submit a 
        report to the United States Senate and United States House of 
        Representatives on the amounts made available under paragraph 
        (1)(A) and all other amounts expended by the State Elections 
        Commission of Puerto Rico for referenda pursuant to this Act.
  (b) Grants for Conducting Referenda and Voter Education.--From 
amounts made available under subsection (a)(1), the Government of 
Puerto Rico shall make grants to the State Elections Commission of 
Puerto Rico for referenda held pursuant to the terms of this Act, as 
follows:
          (1) 50 percent shall be available only for costs of 
        conducting the referenda.
          (2) 50 percent shall be available only for voter education 
        funds for the central ruling body of the political party, 
        parties, or other qualifying entities advocating a particular 
        ballot choice. The amount allocated for advocating a ballot 
        choice under this paragraph shall be apportioned equally among 
        the parties advocating that choice.
  (c) Additional Resources.--In addition to amounts made available by 
this Act, the Puerto Rico Legislature may allocate additional resources 
for administrative and voter education costs to each party so long as 
the distribution of funds is consistent with the apportionment 
requirements of subsection (b).

                          purpose of the bill

    The purpose of H.R. 856 is to provide a process leading to 
full self-government for Puerto Rico.

                  background and need for legislation

History of Puerto Rico's legal and political status

            Puerto Rico and the Caribbean in American history
    During the age of European discovery and colonialism, and 
later in the Revolutionary period when the American political 
culture was born, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands were 
geographically, economically and politically an integral part 
of the North American experience.
    Puerto Rico was one of Christopher Columbus' landfalls, and 
thus was an important part of the European discovery and 
exploration of the New World. Ponce de Leon, the European 
discoverer of Florida, was the first Spanish Governor of Puerto 
Rico. Alexander Hamilton--aide de camp to General Washington 
during the Revolutionary War, collaborator with Madison in The 
Federalist Papers and at the Constitutional Convention in 
Philadelphia, as well as the first Secretary of the Treasury of 
the United States--was born and raised in the Virgin Islands 
adjacent to Puerto Rico.
    Although the Spanish American War was decided on Cuban 
soil, by July 1898 the progress of the war made the time right 
for the U.S. occupation of Spanish-ruled Puerto Rico. An 
armistice was signed by the belligerents on August 12, and 
after securing Puerto Rico, U.S. forces evacuated the Spanish 
governor-general on October 18, 1898. At that time, Major 
General Nelson A. Miles, commanding officer of the invading 
forces, issued a proclamation which informed the people of 
Puerto Rico that:

          We have not come to make war on the people of a 
        country that for several centuries has been oppressed, 
        but, on the contrary, to bring protection, not only to 
        yourselves but to your property, to promote your 
        prosperity, and to bestow upon you the immunities and 
        blessings of the liberal institutions of our 
        government.

    Upon becoming law, H.R. 856 will be the most significant 
measure enacted by Congress in nearly 100 years for the purpose 
of delivering on the promise of General Miles' pronouncement, 
by finally offering the options for full self-government to the 
people of Puerto Rico.
            Puerto Rico as United States possession
    Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States by the Kingdom 
of Spain under the Treaty of Peace ending the Spanish-American 
War, signed at Paris on December 10, 1898, and proclaimed on 
April 11, 1899. Consistent with the powers of Congress 
conferred by Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the U.S. 
Constitution (the Territorial Clause), as well as long-
established U.S. Constitutional practice with respect to 
administration of territories which come under U.S. sovereignty 
but are not yet incorporated into the Union, Article IX of the 
Treaty of Paris provided that the ``civil rights and political 
status of the native inhabitants of the territories hereby 
ceded to the United States shall be determined by the 
Congress.'' Congress exercised its territorial powers and 
carried out its role under Article IX of the Treaty of Paris by 
providing for civilian government and defining the status of 
the residents under the Foraker Act (Act of April 12, 1900, c. 
191. 31 Stat. 77). Shortly thereafter the Supreme Court ruled 
that Puerto Rico and the other territories ceded under the 
Treaty of Paris had the status of unincorporated territories 
subject to the plenary authority of the U.S. Congress under the 
Territorial Clause, and that the Constitution and laws of the 
U.S. would apply in such U.S. possessions as determined by 
Congress. Downes v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 244 (1901); Dorr v. 
United States, 195 U.S. 138 (1904).
            Puerto Ricans' citizen status
    In 1904 the Supreme Court confirmed that under the Foraker 
Act the people of Puerto Rico--as inhabitants of a territory 
which had come under U.S. sovereignty and nationality--were not 
``aliens'' under U.S. immigration law, and were entitled at 
home or abroad to the protection of the United States. Gonzales 
v. Williams, 195 U.S. 1 (1904). While recognizing that the 
territory and its residents had come within U.S. nationality by 
operation of Article IX of the Treaty of Paris, in accordance 
with that same provision of the Treaty the Court left to 
Congress the authority and responsibility to determine the 
citizenship status and rights of the Puerto Rican body politic 
under U.S. sovereignty.
    Thus, under the Foraker Act the residents and persons born 
in Puerto Rico were classified under Federal law as ``citizens 
of Puerto Rico'' until 1917. Under the Jones Act (Act of March 
2, 1917, c. 145, 39 Stat. 961), Congress extended statutory 
U.S. citizenship to residents of Puerto Rico, but less than 
equal civil rights, and statutory rather than Constitutional 
citizenship of Puerto Rican residents continued under that 
arrangement due to the continuation of unincorporated territory 
status.
    The Jones Act also reorganized local civilian government, 
but in contrast to the incorporation of Alaska, or the 
determination of Congress in 1916 that the unincorporated 
territory status of the Philippines would be terminated in 
favor of independence (39 Stat. 546), the Jones Act for Puerto 
Rico did not resolve the question of an ultimate status for the 
territory. Even after internal self-government was established 
under Public Law 81-600 in 1952, statutory rather than 
Constitutional citizenship has continued under 8 U.S.C. 1402, 
and less than equal civil rights for persons born in the 
territory also continues, as discussed below.
    For as long as unincorporated territory status continues, 
the extent to which rights under the U.S. Constitution apply to 
actions of the U.S. government in Puerto Rico will continue to 
be defined by Congress consistent with relevant decisions of 
the U.S. Supreme Court. For example, in addition to the 
measures adopted by Congress under the Jones Act in 1917, the 
U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Balzac v. People of Puerto Rico, 
258 U.S. 298 (1922), that basic requirements for protection of 
fundamental individual rights govern the measures taken by our national 
government where it exercises sovereignty over persons or property.
    Thus, under Balzac and later cases life, liberty and 
property cannot be taken without due process and other 
fundamental protections which apply any place in the world in 
which the U.S. government exercises sovereign powers of 
government over persons under its jurisdiction, including 
unincorporated territories and other territories or properties 
owned by the U.S. but not a State of the Union.
    However, the fact that the Federal Government is 
constrained from exercising sovereignty anywhere, including the 
unincorporated territory of Puerto Rico, in a manner that 
violates such fundamental rights does not mean that Congress 
has extended the U.S. Constitution or any part of it fully or 
permanently to such non-state areas, including Puerto Rico. In 
its 1957 decision in Reid v. Covert (354 U.S. 1), the Supreme 
Court stated that the exercise of U.S. sovereignty in 
unincorporated territories, as construed in the Balzac 
decision, ``* * * involved the power of Congress to provide 
rules and regulations to govern temporarily territories with 
wholly dissimilar traditions and institutions * * *'' [emphasis 
added].
    As the Supreme Court stated in Balzac, for the purpose of 
determining where U.S. sovereignty, nationality and citizenship 
has been extended permanently and irrevocably, ``It is locality 
that is determinative of the application of the Constitution. * 
* *'' Unlike the States, unincorporated territories are not 
localities to which the Constitution has been extended 
permanently, nor has permanent union, permanent U.S. 
nationality or equal citizenship been established in such 
territories. Unless and until Congress extends the U.S. 
Constitution fully, this will be the condition of Puerto Rico's 
status.
    That is why even U.S. citizens born in a State, whose 
rights and status are protected by the 14th Amendment of the 
U.S. Constitution, lose the ability to enjoy equal legal and 
political rights when they go to reside in an unincorporated 
territory. As soon as a person with full Constitutional U.S. 
nationality and citizenship in the States of the Union 
establishes legal residence in Puerto Rico (see, 48 U.S.C. 
733a), that person joins the ranks of the disenfranchised 
residents of the territory, and no longer has the same civil, 
legal or political rights under Federal law as citizens living 
in those territories and commonwealths which have been fully 
incorporated into the Union as States along with the original 
13 States.
    It has been recognized that Congress has broad discretion 
in making rules and regulations for the unincorporated 
territories, which measures must be promulgated and implemented 
in a manner which does not abuse personal rights of due process 
and equal protection. However, in relation to self-
determination for Puerto Rico it is important to note that the 
fundamental rights requirement of Balzac and other cases does 
not preclude Congress from altering the political status of the 
territory through the appropriate U.S. Constitutional processes 
consistent with due process and equal protection principles. 
U.S. v. Sanchez, 992 F.2d 1143 (1993).
    At this time no one expects the U.S. Congress to act 
arbitrarily or unilaterally with respect to status for Puerto 
Rico. However, an informed self-determination process requires 
that Congress and the people of Puerto Rico understand that 
current policy and statutory provisions may change in time, 
while fundamental Constitutional powers do not. It is 
impossible to predict what conditions will develop in the 
future or what measures Congress would determine necessary to 
promote the national interest if the status of Puerto Rico 
remains subject to the discretion of Congress under the 
Territorial Clause.
            Puerto Rico's ``Commonwealth'' status as a territory under 
                    Federal law
    The current ``Commonwealth of Puerto Rico'' structure for 
local self-government was established through an exercise of 
the authority of Congress under the Territorial Clause (Article 
IV, Section 3, Clause 2) of the U.S. Constitution, pursuant to 
which the process for approval of a local constitution was 
prescribed and the current Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act 
was enacted. (Public Law 81-600, July 3, 1950, c. 446, 64 
State. 319; codified at 48 U.S.C. 731 et seq.).
    Public Law 81-600 authorized the process for democratically 
instituting a local constitutional government in Puerto Rico. 
The process prescribed by Congress included authorization for 
the people of Puerto Rico to organize a government under a 
constitution approved by the voters. Congressional amendment 
and conditional approval of the locally-promulgated 
constitution also was an element of the process, as was 
acceptance of the Congressionally-determined amendments by the 
Puerto Rican constitutional convention. This method of 
establishing a local government charter with consent of both 
the people and Congress is the basis for the language in 
Section 1 of Public Law 81-600 (48 U.S.C. 731b) describing the 
process as being in the ``nature of a compact'' based on 
recognition of the ``principle of consent.''
    The subject matter of Public Law 81-600 was limited to 
organization of a local government as authorized by Congress 
under the Territorial Clause, and the very existence--as well 
as the actions of--the local government are subject to the 
supremacy of the Federal Constitution and laws passed by 
Congress. Thus, the authority and powers of the constitutional 
government established under the Public Law 81-600 process are 
a creation of Federal law, and the approval of the local 
constitution by the people constitutes their consent to the 
legal framework defined in Federal law for a form of self-
government over internal affairs and administration.
    Although Congress presumably would include some procedure 
which recognizes the principle of self-determination in 
changing the structure for local self-government in the future, 
the existing statutory authority for the current 
``commonwealth'' structure can be rescinded by Congress under 
the same Territorial Clause power exercised to create it in the 
first place. Public Law 81-600 merely revises the previously 
enacted territorial organic act adopted by Congress in the 1917 
Jones Act, and changes the name to the ``Puerto Rico Federal 
Relations Act'' (PRFRA). This analysis is confirmed by the 
legislative history of PRFRA (H. Rept. 2275), which states:

          The bill under consideration would not change Puerto 
        Rico's fundamental political, social, and economic 
        relationship to the United States. Those sections of 
        the Organic Act of Puerto Rico pertaining to the 
        political, social, and economic relationship of the 
        United States and Puerto Rico concerning such matters 
        as the applicability of United States laws, customs, 
        internal revenue, Federal judicial jurisdiction in 
        Puerto Rico, Puerto Rican representation by a Resident 
        Commissioner, etc., would remain in force and effect, 
        and upon enactment would be referred to as the Puerto 
        Rican Federal Relations Act. The sections of the 
        organic act which Section 5 of the bill would repeal 
        are the provisions of the act concerned primarily with 
        the organization of the local executive, legislative, 
        and judicial branches of the government of Puerto Rico 
        and other matters of purely local concern.

    Based upon the present status of Puerto Rico under Public 
Law 81-600, the Federal courts have ruled that for purposes of 
U.S. law this arrangement for local territorial government has 
not changed Puerto Rico's status as an unincorporated territory 
subject to the plenary authority of Congress under the 
Territorial Clause; that the right to due process and equal 
protection of the law applies to Puerto Rico, but this does not 
include equal enfranchisement in the political process or equal 
rights and benefits under Federal law as available to citizens 
residing in the States; that the authority of the Government of 
the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is limited to purely local 
affairs not governed by provisions of the Federal Constitution 
and Federal laws applicable to Puerto Rico; and that the 
establishment of local constitutional self-government with the 
consent of the people was authorized through an exercise of 
Congressional discretion under the Territorial Clause which is 
not binding on a future Congress. Harris v. Rosario, 446 U.S. 
651 (1980); Examining Board v. Flores de Otero, 426 U.S. 572, 
81-600 (1976); Rodriguez v. Popular Democratic Party, 457 U.S. 
1 (1982); U.S. v. Sanchez, 992 F.2d 1143 (1993).
            Legal nature of statutory citizenship
    The statutory United States citizenship of persons born in 
Puerto Rico was first extended to Puerto Rico by Congress under 
the Jones Act of 1917, and continues under 8 U.S.C. 1402 during 
the current period in which the territory has a commonwealth 
structure of local government. It is important to note that 
adoption of the local constitution in 1952 pursuant to Public 
Law 81-600 did not alter the allocation of Constitutional 
authority nor change the state of U.S. law regarding the 
citizenship status of residents of the territory.
    While the U.S. citizenship of persons born in Puerto Rico 
is expressly recognized in the local constitution, the current 
citizenship of persons born in the territory is not created, 
defined or guaranteed by the local constitution or the 
commonwealth structure of local self-government. Rather, the 
current U.S. citizenship of persons born in Puerto Rico is 
created and defined by Congress in the exercise of its 
Territorial Clause power and in implementation of Article IX of 
the Treaty of Paris.
    In the exercise of its authority and responsibility toward 
Puerto Rico Congress has determined to define persons born in 
Puerto Rico as U.S. citizens subject to the laws of the U.S. 
regulating U.S. nationality and citizenship. Thus, the 
citizenship of such persons is as set forth in 8 U.S.C. 1402, 
which is part of the immigration and nationality law of the 
United Statesapproved by Congress in the exercise of its 
authority under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. The 
earlier citizenship provisions of the Foraker Act and Jones Act cited 
above have been superseded by 8 U.S.C. 1402.
    For example, a Congressional Research Service (CRS) legal 
analysis in 1990 confirmed that establishment of separate 
Puerto Rican sovereignty would appear to provide the legal 
basis for Congress to withdraw statutory citizenship without 
violating due process. See, Legal Memorandum of John H. 
Killian, Senior Specialist, American Constitutional Law, CRS, 
American Law Division, November 15, 1990.
    However, rather than automatic termination in every case of 
the statutory U.S. citizenship of those born in Puerto Rico in 
the event that the unincorporated territory status of Puerto 
Rico is resolved in favor of separate sovereignty, on an 
individual basis persons already enjoying statutory U.S. 
citizenship rights will be able to retain that status for life 
by election or entitlement, as provided by Congress.
    Thus, in a separate sovereignty scenario U.S. nationality 
and citizenship would no longer be conferred on persons born in 
Puerto Rico as of the date U.S. sovereignty ends, or perhaps 
even earlier during the transition period. Only those persons 
who acquired U.S. nationality and citizenship under the Treaty 
of Paris and statutes implementing its provisions during the 
territorial period would be able to elect to retain that status 
for life.
    The Bellei case cited above establishes that Congress can 
place conditions precedent or subsequent on such statutory 
citizenship. To ensure the successful succession of state to 
nationhood for Puerto Rico and avoid the impairment of U.S. and 
Puerto Rican sovereignty that would inevitably result from a 
grant of mass dual citizenship, the Committee expects Congress 
to include in any status legislation for Puerto Rico the 
provisions in H.R. 856 which end continued statutory U.S. 
citizenship based on birth in Puerto Rico during the 
territorial period upon acquisition of any other citizenship, 
including that of Puerto Rico. This approach would not prevent 
dual citizenship on an individual case-by-case basis if the 
U.S. citizenship of the person was acquired on a legal basis 
other than birth in Puerto Rico or a relationship to a person 
whose U.S. citizenship is based on birth in the territory. It 
will, however, prevent conversion of the current statutory U.S. 
citizenship into automatic dual citizenship as a result of a 
change of status to separate sovereignty.

Puerto Rico's international legal status

    The foregoing makes it clear that to the extent the process 
for approval of the new constitution by the people of Puerto 
Rico and Congress in 1952 was ``in the nature of a compact,'' 
its purpose and scope was to establish a local government of 
limited authority subject to the supremacy of the Federal 
Constitution and laws.
    The notion that the actions and statements of diplomatic 
representatives in the United Nations (U.N.) characterizing 
this new constitutional status for purposes of the U.N. 
decolonization process somehow expanded the legal effect beyond 
the clear intent of Congress is not supported by the formal 
measures adopted by the U.N. in this matter. To understand the 
international dimension of Puerto Rico's status, a review of 
the relevant international instruments and the U.N. record 
regarding Puerto Rico is necessary.
    As noted above with respect to Puerto Rico's status under 
U.S. domestic law, the Foraker Act of 1900, the Jones Act of 
1917 and Public Law 81-600 each constitute measures to 
implement Article IX of the Treaty of Paris adopted by Congress 
in the exercise of its plenary authority over unincorporated 
territories under the Territorial Clause. However, the Treaty 
of Paris no longer is the only relevant international agreement 
regarding the status of Puerto Rico to which the U.S. is a 
party.
    Specifically, after the United States became a party to the 
U.N. Charter, Puerto Rico was classified as a non-self-
governing area under Chapter XI of the Charter, ``Declaration 
Regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories.'' As such, the U.S. 
was designated to be a responsible administering power 
obligated under Chapter XI of the Charter to adhere to U.N. 
decolonization procedures with respect to Puerto Rico.
    This included the specific requirement to transmit reports 
to the U.N. regarding conditions in the territory under Article 
73(e) of Chapter XI of the Charter. In 1953 the U.S. informed 
the U.N. that it would cease to transmit information regarding 
Puerto Rico pursuant to Article 73(e) of the Charter based upon 
establishment of local constitutional government in Puerto Rico 
under Public Law 81-600. See, ``Memorandum by the Government of 
the United States of America Concerning the Cessation of 
Transmission of Information Under Article 73(e) of the Charter 
with regard to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.'' (Appendix A).
    Based on that communication from the United States, on 
September 27, 1953, the General Assembly of the United Nations, 
by a vote of 22 to 18 with 19 abstentions, adopted Resolution 
748 (VIII), accepting the U.S. decision to cease transmission 
of reports regarding Puerto Rico. The formal United States 
notification to the U.N. that reporting on Puerto Rico would 
cease was based on the detailed memorandum to the U.N. 
Secretary-General which put the Members of the U.N. on notice 
that, among other things, the new constitutional arrangements 
in Puerto Rico were limited to ``internal affairs and 
administration'' subject to the applicable provisions of the 
U.S. Constitution, that the new local self-government would be 
administered consistent with the Federal structure of 
government in the U.S., and that the precise legal nature of 
the relationship and Puerto Rico's status was subject to 
judicial interpretation in the U.S. courts.
    Thus, those who suggest that U.S. diplomats overstated the 
degree of self-government achieved under the Constitution to 
get the U.N. to go along may be partially right, but that is 
why countries submit written statements to clarify ambiguities 
and set the record straight. The formal, written communication 
which notified the U.N. of the U.S. position clearly and 
expressly limited the scope of constitutional self-government 
to local affairs and required compatibility with the Federal 
Constitution, including judicial interpretation of the 
relationship by the Federal courts. In this respect, it is 
correct to conclude the United States told the truth to the 
U.N. in 1953.
    The following critical elements of Resolution 748 reveal 
that while there may have been a meeting of the minds between 
the U.N. and the United States as to the result of Resolution 
748 for the international purposes of the world body, the 
tension created between the U.S. Constitutional process for 
administering non-state areas under the Territorial Clause and 
the terms of reference employed by the U.N. in the resolution 
would contribute to decades of ambiguity which has been 
actively exploited in the debate between local political 
parties in Puerto Rico. The failure of Congress to more 
actively seek to resolve these ambiguities and the overall 
political status issue also has contributed to the confusion 
related to the non-binding but politically-relevant U.N. 
measures adopted in 1953.
    The most critical elements of Resolution 748 include the 
following passages:

          The General Assembly * * * Bearing in mind the 
        competence of the General Assembly to decide whether a 
        Non-Self-Governing Territory has or has not attained a 
        full measure of self-government * * * Recognizes that 
        the people of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, by 
        expressing their will in a free and democratic way, 
        have achieved a new constitutional status * * * 
        Expresses the opinion that it stems from the 
        documentation provided that the association of the 
        Commonwealth of Puerto Rico with the United States has 
        been established as a mutually agreed association * * * 
        Recognizes that, in the framework of their Constitution 
        and of the compact agreed upon with the United States 
        of America, the people of the Commonwealth of Puerto 
        Rico have been invested with the attributes of 
        political sovereignty which clearly identify the status 
        of the self-government attained by the Puerto Rican 
        people as that of an autonomous political entity. * * *

    The meaning and significance of this language from 
Resolution 748 must be understood in the context of Resolution 
742 (VIII), also adopted by the General Assembly on September 
27, 1953. That general resolution is entitled ``Factors which 
should be taken into account in deciding whether a Territory is 
or is not a Territory whose people have not yet attained a full 
measure of self-government.'' Resolution 742 establishes the 
criteria for the General Assembly to determine ``whether any 
Territory, due to changes in its Constitutional status, is or 
is no longer within the scope of Chapter XI of the Charter, in 
order that, in view of the documentation provided * * * a 
decision may be taken by the General Assembly on the 
continuation or cessation of the transmission of information 
required by Chapter XI of the Charter.'' In prescribing the 
conditions which provide a basis for, inter alia, cessation of 
reporting under Article 73(e), the provisions of the resolution 
regarding association between a territory and an administering 
power include the following statement of criteria:

          The General Assembly * * * Considers that the manner 
        in which Territories * * * can become fully self-
        governing is primarily through the attainment of 
        independence, although it is recognized that self-
        government also can be achieved by association with 
        another State * * * if this is done freely and on the 
        basis of absolute equality * * * and the freedom of the 
        population of a Territory which has associated itself 
        with the metropolitan country to modify at any time 
        this status through the expression on their will * * * 
        Association by virtue of a treaty or bilateral 
        agreement affecting the status of the Territory, taking 
        into account (i) whether the Constitutional guarantees 
        extend equally to the associated Territory, (ii) 
        whether there are powers in certain matters 
        Constitutionally reserved * * * to the central 
        authority, and (iii) whether there is provision for the 
        participation of the Territory on a basis of equality 
        in any changes in the Constitutional system of the 
        State * * * Representation without discrimination in 
        the central legislative organs on the same basis as 
        other inhabitants and regions * * * Citizenship without 
        discrimination on the same basis as other inhabitants * 
        * * Local self-government of the same scope and under 
        the same conditions as enjoyed by other parts of the 
        country.

    As the U.S. domestic legislation which determined the 
nature of the relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico, 
Public Law 81-600 authorized the people of Puerto Rico to 
approve a constitution through a process which would be ``in 
the nature of a compact.'' However, the ``compact'' was for the 
creation of a form of local constitutional self-government, 
which represented progress toward, but did not fulfill or 
satisfy, U.N. criteria for full self-government constituting 
completion of the decolonization process.
    The conditions supporting this conclusion include the 
statutory citizenship status of the inhabitants of Puerto Rico 
which is not equal, full, permanent, irrevocable citizenship 
protected by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the 
lack of voting representation in Congress as the legislative 
body which determines the form of government and laws under 
which the people of the territory live, the lack of voting 
rights in elections for President and Vice President, rights of 
equal protection and due process which have a different 
application and effect in the territory than in the rest of the 
Nation, and retention by Congress of the authority (unimpaired 
by the non-self-executing undertakings regarding the right of 
self-determination) to determine the disposition of the 
territory.
    Again, it is ultimately consistent with the right of self-
determination to terminate an association between metropolitan 
power and a territory in favor of independence, because 
independence is by definition consistent with the right of 
self-determination. Thus, if mutual agreement on the terms of 
continued association, integration or separate sovereignty 
cannot be achieved, succession to independence is an option.
    It can be argued that the discrepancy between the 
subsequent interpretation of information provided to the U.N. 
by the U.S. in 1953 about Puerto Rico's new constitutional 
status and the reality of Puerto Rico's status under the U.S. 
Federal political system has been the result of a 
misunderstanding. For example, some may have been unfamiliar 
with the Territorial Clause regime under the U.S. 
Constitutional process.
    An alternative view is that the close vote on approval of a 
somewhat equivocal resolution represented a practical 
diplomatic accommodation of U.S. insistence in 1953 that Puerto 
Rico's status should not be subject to U.N. oversight. Neither 
of these views, however, alter the result.
    More important than such speculation, Section 9 of 
Resolution 748 reveals the manner in which the U.N. chose to 
address the fact that adoption of local constitutional self-
governmentbegan but in and of itself did not necessarily 
complete the decolonization process for Puerto Rico. This most 
important provision states that the General Assembly:

          Expresses its assurance that, in accordance with the 
        spirit of the present resolution, the ideal embodied in 
        the Charter of the United Nations, the traditions of 
        the people of the United States of America and the 
        political advancement attained by the people of Puerto 
        Rico, due regard will be paid to the will of both the 
        Puerto Rican and American peoples in the conduct of 
        their relations under their present legal statute, and 
        also in the eventuality that either of the parties to 
        the mutually agreed association may desire any change 
        in the terms of this association.

    Consistent with this language in Resolution 748, the U.S. 
repeatedly has confirmed its policy that in addition to the 
current status and statehood, independence is available to 
Puerto Rico at any time that is the preference of the people. 
Although the commonwealth relationship has been accurately 
characterized as less than full self-government, and criticized 
in the U.N. over the years on that basis, because it was 
established and maintained with the consent of the people the 
U.S. has been able to defend and sustain its policy simply by 
pointing out that independence is available should the will of 
the people to retain the present association change.
    In this context, the U.S. assertion in the memorandum 
circulated to the U.N. in 1953 that Puerto Rico had achieved a 
``full measure'' of self-government under its new 
constitutional status as of 1952 is best understood as an 
expression that the new relationship gave the people the 
ability to exercise self-determination and achieve independence 
at any time, or any other relationship to the U.S. to which 
agreement might be reached. That, in essence, is what Section 9 
of Resolution 748 stated.
    H.R. 856 will ensure legitimacy of the status of Puerto 
Rico by making fully meaningful self-determination possible for 
the first time in a century, and thereby make a permanent 
solution to the status question possible.
    In this connection, the Committee notes that on December 
15, 1960, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 1541 (XV), 
which established ``Principles which should guide Members is 
determining whether or not an obligation exists to transmit the 
information called for under Article 73 of the Charter.'' This 
resolution clarifies U.N. standards for determining when the 
non-self-governing status of a territory has been terminated in 
favor of full self-government, and defines the options 
available to territories seeking full self-government.
    On that basis some have suggested that Puerto Rico should 
be reinscribed on the U.N. list of non-self-governing areas. Of 
course, neither the U.S. nor the U.N. sought to apply 
Resolution 1541 retroactively to Puerto Rico and revisit the 
question of its status in 1960. Rather, the U.N. continues to 
accept as it did in 1953 that Puerto Rico's status is 
consistent with the right of self-determination and 
independence because the people have the means to achieve 
independence through self-determination if that is their will. 
This is based on: (i) the consent of the people to the current 
Constitutional association under U.S. sovereignty; (ii) the 
ability of both the U.S. and Puerto Rico to seek changes to the 
current arrangements through self-determination in the future 
according to Section 9 of Resolution 748; and (iii) the U.S. 
position since 1953 that the U.S. will grant full independence 
to Puerto Rico any time it wants.
    Since 1960, the United States has acted consistent with 
Resolution 1541 in its dealings with those U.S. territories 
still on the U.N. list of areas on which the U.S. still reports 
to the U.N. For example, the U.S. ended the trusteeship in the 
Pacific Islands on the basis of free association in accordance 
with Resolution 1541 (See, Public Law 99-239).
    Thus, while Resolution 1541 did not apply to Puerto Rico in 
1953 because it was not adopted until 1960, if the U.S. and 
Puerto Rico now determine to change the current relationship 
pursuant to Section 9 of Resolution 748, the U.S. will act in 
accordance with the principles of Resolution 1541. This is not 
because it is a binding or self-executing document, but because 
the U.S. has found it to be consistent with its commitments 
under the U.N. Charter and the U.S. national interest to do so 
in dealing with all the unincorporated territories under U.S. 
sovereignty, as well in the case of the U.N. trusteeship.
    While Puerto Rico's current status does not meet the 
criteria for any of the options for full self-government under 
Resolution 1541, H.R. 856 defines a process which could lead to 
establishment of full self-government consistent with the three 
status alternatives which have been formally recognized by the 
United States in consideration of Resolution 1541: full 
integration on the basis of equality, free association based on 
separate sovereignty, or absolute national independence.
    As a consequence of how international standards regarding 
decolonization have evolved since 1953, and in view of how the 
political branches of the Federal Government and the courts 
have implemented and interpreted the ``compact'' for local 
self-government under PRFRA, the United States has recognized 
that Puerto Rico did not achieve full self-government in 1952.
    For example, on November 30, 1992, President George Bush 
issued a memorandum which stated that:

          On July 25, 1952, as a consequence of steps taken by 
        both the United States Government and the people of 
        Puerto Rico voting in a referendum, a new constitution 
        was promulgated establishing the Commonwealth of Puerto 
        Rico. The Commonwealth structure provides for self-
        government in respect of internal affairs and 
        administration, subject to relevant portions of the 
        Constitution and laws of the United States. As long as 
        Puerto Rico is a territory, however, the will of its 
        people regarding their political status should be 
        ascertained periodically by means of a general right of 
        referendum. * * *

    Similarly, in the 104th Congress, the United States-Puerto 
Rico Political Status Act, H.R. 3024, was first introduced in 
the U.S. Congress. See, Appendix III, House Report 104-713, 
Part 1, pp. 55-56. That bill and the statement included by its 
sponsors (including four committee and subcommittee chairmen 
with jurisdiction and interest in the status of the Puerto 
Rico) in theCongressional Record are strong evidence of 
continued U.S. recognition that Puerto Rico's decolonization process 
has not been completed as a matter of international or domestic law.
    However, it is irrefutable that the United States has 
provided for an unprecedented level of local self-government in 
Puerto Rico since 1952. During the past four decades there have 
been continuing elections conducted pursuant to democratic 
processes under Puerto Rico law, often resulting in changes in 
government. Puerto Rico has indeed administered internal 
affairs and local matters without intrusion by the United 
States beyond that which is exercised by the Federal Government 
in the States of the Union. Although Puerto Rico has not yet 
achieved a permanent political status, given the local self-
governance of the territory and the nature of the United 
States-Puerto Rico relationship, there is no basis for the 
United States to resume annual reporting to the U. N.

Puerto Rico's political status and self-determination process: recent 
        developments and current situation

    Following a failed attempt by Congress in 1991 to approve 
legislation to enable the people to exercise the right of self-
determination regarding their political status, a plebiscite to 
enable the residents of Puerto Rico to express their 
preferences on the status question was conducted by the local 
government under Puerto Rican law on November 14, 1993. For the 
first time in almost a century of U.S. sovereignty, less than a 
majority of the voters approved the current status of the 
territory.
    Indeed, none of the three options on the ballot--
independence, commonwealth or statehood--received a majority of 
votes cast. Controversy ensued after the vote, and still 
continues, regarding the manner in which the local political 
parties were allowed--in the absence of status definitions 
approved by Congress--to define the options on the ballot.
    Recognizing that Puerto Rico cannot unilaterally determine 
its ultimate status within a political framework to which the 
U.S. also is to be a party in agreement, and that the results 
of the 1993 plebiscite made further self-determination for 
Puerto Rico necessary, on January 23, 1997, the Legislature of 
Puerto Rico adopted Concurrent Resolution 2, requesting the 
105th Congress to ``* * * respond to the democratic aspirations 
of the American citizens of Puerto Rico'' by approving 
legislation to authorize `` * * * a plebiscite sponsored by the 
Federal Government, which shall be held no later than 1998.'' 
(Appendix B).
    Since, as discussed above, Puerto Rico does not enjoy equal 
participation or representation in the U.S. political and legal 
system through which the citizens of the territory are 
governed, the absence of a democratic majority among the people 
there in favor of the current commonwealth status as 
established under Federal law is cause for concern. Among other 
things, it raises a serious question regarding the long-term 
viability of the present commonwealth structure of local self-
government for Puerto Rico as an unincorporated territory 
subject to the authority of Congress.
    The United States is the national body politic in which 
Puerto Rico presently exists, and Puerto Rico's relationship 
with the U.S. establishes the current status of the territory 
internationally and within the U.S. Constitutional and legal 
system. Thus, the process for approving any new relationship or 
change of the underlying status involves mutual self-
determination by the U.S. as a whole as well as the local body 
politic composed of U.S. citizens born or residing in Puerto 
Rico. Thus, Congress also is an indispensable party in any 
process for defining the options which will be considered for 
approval by the voters on behalf of Puerto Rico, and by 
Congress itself on behalf of the United States.
    The decision of a majority of the voters not to ratify the 
current status calls into question the legitimacy of the policy 
espoused by many in Congress and the Executive Branch to the 
effect that political leaders in the Federal Government simply 
should ``remain neutral'' and support the right of the people 
to choose their own status. That policy, which constitutes 
failure of the Federal Government adequately to inform the 
people of the territory as to what status options the U.S. is 
willing to consider, effectively deprives the residents of the 
territory of an opportunity for meaningful self-determination.
    Accordingly, the Legislature of Puerto Rico's request in 
Resolution 2 for a Congressionally-sponsored self-determination 
process expressly recognized the record which was established 
regarding the status of Puerto Rico by the Committee on 
Resources during the 104th Congress. Specifically, the request 
recognizes the historical importance of the Statement of 
Principles transmitted by concerned Congressional leaders dated 
February 29, 1996, responding to a previous request from the 
Legislature of Puerto Rico to Congress asking for Federally-
accepted definitions of status options and self-determination 
procedures.
    In renewing the request to Congress for a Federally-
recognized mutual self-determination process, the newly re-
elected Legislature also noted in Resolution 2 that the 
signatories of the Statement of Principles dated February 29, 
1996, had ``fulfilled their pledge'' to the people of Puerto 
Rico by introducing H.R. 3024 in the 104th Congress.
    Resolution 2 goes on to note significant bipartisan 
sponsorship of H.R. 3024, as well as documentation in the 
record before Congress of strong support by distinguished 
Members of the Minority party in Congress for the approach to 
self-determination for Puerto Rico embodied in both H.R. 3024 
and S. 2019--a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.
    Resolution 2 the Legislature of Puerto Rico also explicitly 
notes adoption of House Report 104-713, Part 1 of which 
establishes that legitimate self-determination for Puerto Rico 
requires more than a one-stage decision-making process, as well 
as periodic referenda in the event of an inconclusive vote. The 
Committee on Rules also filed a report on H.R. 3024 (H. Rept. 
104-713, Part 2).
    Resolution 2 describes all these provisions embodied in 
H.R. 3024 and its accompanying reports as ``well-founded'' ones 
which represent ``substantial progress'' by the 104th Congress 
toward completion of the decolonization process for Puerto 
Rico. H.R. 856 as introduced in the 105th Congress on March 3, 
1997, represents continuation where the deliberations on H.R. 
3024 ended at the close of the 104th Congress. See, Statement 
of the Hon. Don Young regarding H.R. 4281, September 28, 1996. 
(Appendix C).
    The provisions prescribing self-determination procedures 
and defining acceptable status options, as explained in House 
Report 104-713, Part 1, have been modified in some respects as 
discussed below, but the core elements of the self-
determination process contemplated in H.R. 3024 remain central 
to the structure of H.R. 856. The Committee therefore views 
House Report 104-713, Part 1, and its appendices as a 
particularly important and integral part of the record and 
legislative history which establishes the basis for approval by 
Congress of H.R. 856.
    As this legislation is revised and improved further 
consistent with its purpose, the Committee will adhere to the 
underlying understandings and procedure for resolving Puerto 
Rico's status expressed in the Statement of Principles dated 
February 29, 1996, and as embodied in H.R. 3024 and House 
Report 104-713, Part 1.
    The record before the Committee also includes the March 3, 
1997, bipartisan request by the Chairman and Ranking Minority 
Member of the Committee on Resources that each political party 
in Puerto Rico submit by March 31, 1997, the proposed 
definition of the status options it endorses for inclusion on 
the ballot in a referendum under this legislation. (Appendix 
D). In compliance with that request, the Popular Democratic 
Party (PDP) submitted a proposed definition of commonwealth, 
the New Progressive Party (NPP) submitted a proposed definition 
of statehood, and the Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP) 
submitted a proposed definition of separate sovereignty. 
(Appendix E).

The 1993 vote--Why does Congress need to act?

    The record now before the Committee strongly suggests that 
the conflicting and adamantly held views about the meaning of 
the 1993 plebiscite results, and the controversy which 
surrounds that process, relates primarily to the fact that the 
PDP, NPP, and PIP were allowed unilaterally to formulate the 
definition of ``commonwealth,'' ``statehood'' and 
``independence,'' respectively, as those options appeared on 
the ballot.
    The testimony of witnesses and materials presented to the 
Committee during hearings reveals that the greatest controversy 
and debate has been with respect to the definition of 
``commonwealth'' as adopted by the PDP and presented to the 
voters in the plebiscite. This no doubt is due in part to the 
fact that the ``commonwealth'' option received the highest 
number of votes, 48.6 percent, while statehood received 46.3 
percent and independence received 4.4 percent.
    However, the testimony received by the Committee from the 
three parties and others concerned also makes it very clear 
that the focus of attention which the ``commonwealth'' 
definition has received also relates to the contents of that 
ballot option, for in the case of ``commonwealth'' it quite 
clearly was a conscious decision of PDP leaders to define it as 
they would like Congress to change and improve it, rather than 
it actually is at this time.
    Even though there also are substantial and controversial 
issues associated with the questions of how the ``statehood'' 
and ``independence'' definitions would be implemented, as 
discussed below, to a far greater extent than in the case of 
``commonwealth'' the Constitutional structures and legal nature 
of those two options are relatively well-defined and well-
understood.
    While both the ``statehood'' and ``independence'' 
definitions were cast in the most favorable light possible and 
there was some embellishment, the meaning of those options and 
the choices to be made were fairly clear. It was the 
``commonwealth'' definition that introduced the most complex, 
historically unprecedented and Constitutionally uncertain 
proposals, requiring implementation through measures never 
before adopted by Congress in the combination or with the 
effect called for in the 1993 ballot language.
    The ``commonwealth'' definition in the 1993 vote 
reasonably, logically, and without prejudice can and should be 
seen as a bold ``have it both ways'' hybrid status option, 
which is Constitutionally flawed as it purports to combine in 
one status the primary benefits of both separate sovereignty 
and statehood, with the primary burdens of neither. Yet, even 
with this proposal for a new and ``enhanced'' formulation of 
the present Federal-territorial relationship, thought by its 
authors to be irresistible to the voters, ``commonwealth'' was 
not approved by a majority. This has required the Committee to 
look very closely at the ``commonwealth'' definition and the 
1993 plebiscite results.
    For example, the ballot definition of the current status in 
the 1993 political status plebiscite did not inform the voter--
or even acknowledge--that at present Puerto Rico is a U.S. 
territory, or that the ``commonwealth'' structure for local 
constitutional self-government is subject to the supremacy of 
Federal law as applied to Puerto Rico by Congress in the 
exercise of its powers under the Constitution.
    Thus, instead of confirming the legal nature and political 
realities of the current status so the voters could make an 
informed choice, the 1993 ballot description of commonwealth 
called for changes in the Puerto Rico-U.S. relationship of a 
fundamental nature. There seems to be no dispute that if the 
1993 ballot had described ``commonwealth'' as it is without the 
changes to enhance it (formulated and included in that 
definition by the PDP), popular support for that option among 
those who support the PDP would have been diminished 
significantly.
    This explains why the ``commonwealth'' definition in the 
1993 plebiscite had as its premise the theory that, as a 
results of adoption of the local constitution in 1952, the 
territorial status of Puerto Rico had ended. As a consequence, 
according to ballot language adopted by the PDP leadership, the 
status of Puerto Rico was defined as one based on a ``bilateral 
pact that can not be altered except by mutual agreement.'' 
(See, Committee on Resources Hearing 104-56 p. 210, for text of 
ballot).
    Thus, the PDP definition was predicated on the PDP's long-
standing doctrine that Puerto Rico's status has been converted 
into a permanent form of associated autonomous statehood which 
is unprecedented in the history of U.S. Constitutional 
federalism. The definition of ``commonwealth'' on the 1993 
ballot also stated that ``commonwealth * * * guarantees * * * 
irrevocable U.S. citizenship'' (now guaranteed under the U.S. 
Constitution only to persons born in one of the States of the 
Union), as well as exemption from taxation under the label 
``fiscal autonomy,'' and increased Federal social welfare 
benefits. All the provisions and rights included in the 
1993definition, including the permanency of the current status, would 
have been binding on Congress in perpetuity, and could not be altered 
except by mutual consent of both parties.
    Although some Members of Congress spoke out before and 
after the 1993 vote about the internal inconsistencies in the 
ballot definitions (See, Appendix II, House Report 104-713, 
Part 1), the 103rd Congress adjourned more than a year after 
the 1993 plebiscite without breaking its silence regarding the 
results of that plebiscite.
    For that reason, on December 14, 1994, the Legislature of 
Puerto Rico adopted Resolution 62, expressly requesting the 
104th Congress, if it did not ``accede'' to the 1993 ballot 
definitions and resulting vote, to determine ``the specific 
status alternatives'' the United States ``is willing to 
consider,'' and then to state what steps Congress recommends be 
taken for the people of Puerto Rico to establish for the 
territory a ``process to solve the problem of their political 
status.'' On October 17, 1995, the Subcommittee on Native 
American and Insular Affairs, Committee on Resources, and the 
Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Committee on International 
Relations, held a joint hearing in Washington, D.C. on the 
results of the 1993 plebiscite. All political parties were 
represented in the hearing, and all interested organizations 
and individuals were allowed to submit written statements for 
the record.
    Based upon the testimony and materials submitted at that 
hearing, the approach embodied in H.R. 3024, and now continued 
in H.R. 856, was developed to enable Congress to define a 
process of self-determination for Puerto Rico. The events 
leading to development of this legislation included the formal 
statement of principles dated February 29, 1996, addressed to 
the Legislature of Puerto Rico with respect to the subject 
matter of Concurrent Resolution 62, transmitted by the four 
chairmen of the committees and subcommittees in the House of 
Representatives with primary jurisdiction over the status of 
Puerto Rico. See, Cong. Rec., March 6, 1996, E299-300; Appendix 
III, House Report 104-713, Part 1.
    After reviewing the testimony from the hearing and 
examining the record in a very deliberate manner, the Committee 
determined that the notion of an unalterable bilateral pact 
espoused by the PDP is predicated on the theory that an implied 
compact supposedly created in 1952 is mutually binding on 
Puerto Rico and Congress. Under this theory, the principle of 
consent recognized in Public Law 81-600 with respect to 
establishment of local constitutional self-government 
respecting internal affairs supposedly has been elevated onto 
the plane of government-to-government mutuality. On that basis, 
it is incorrectly theorized that there is a treaty-like 
relationship which, again, can be altered only with mutual 
consent of both governments. Paradoxically, this ``bilateral'' 
relationship is presumed to be permanent and within the U.S. 
Federal system.
    This is an unrealistic and inaccurate rendition of the 
relationship--based on separate sovereignty, nationality and 
citizenship--which exists between the U.S. and the Pacific 
island nations party to the Compact of Free Association which 
ended the U.S. administered U.N. trusteeship in Micronesia. 
See, Title II of Public Law 99-239.
    While such a free association relationship is available to 
Puerto Rico if that is the option chosen by the voters, U.S. 
policy and practice relating to free association as defined in 
international law is not a status which exists within the U.S. 
Constitutional system. As an international status, free 
association is not a model which provides a basis for the 
assertion that a mutual consent relationship was created 
between Puerto Rico and the U.S. within the U.S. Constitutional 
system in 1952. Indeed, the notion that an unalterable, 
permanently binding mutual consent political relationship can 
be instituted under the U.S. Constitution between an 
unincorporated territory and Congress has been discredited and 
rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court as already discussed.
    In addition, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has confirmed 
that mutual consent provisions are not binding on a future 
Congress, are not legally enforceable, and must not be used to 
mislead territorial residents about their political status and 
legal rights. Specifically, on July 28, 1994, the DOJ Deputy 
Assistant Attorney General issued a legal opinion which 
included the following statement about ``bilateral mutuality'' 
in the case of Puerto Rico: ``The Department [of Justice] 
revisited this issue in the early 1990's in connection with the 
Puerto Rico Status Referendum Bill in light of Bowen v. 
Agencies Opposed to Soc. Sec. Entrapment, 477 U.S. 41 (1986), 
and concluded that there could not be an enforceable vested 
right in a political status; hence the mutual consent clauses 
were ineffective because they would not bind a subsequent 
Congress.'' Dept. of Justice Memo, footnote 2, p. 2; See, 
Committee on Resources Hearing 104-56, p. 312. The DOJ memo 
also concludes that a ballot definition of ``commonwealth'' 
based on the idea of an unalterable bilateral pact with mutual 
consent at the foundation ``would be misleading,'' and that 
``honesty and fair dealing forbid the inclusion of such 
illusory and deceptive provisions. * * *'' The document goes on 
to state that unalterable mutual consent pacts ``raise serious 
constitutional issues and are legally unenforceable.'' Status 
definitions based on the notion of unalterable mutual consent 
pact should not be on a plebiscite ballot ``unless their 
unenforceability (or precatory nature) is clearly stated in the 
document itself.''
    The DOJ memo offers, as a sympathetic exercise of 
discretionary authority by Federal officials rather than as of 
right, to honor as existing mutual consent provisions (such as 
that in the Northern Mariana Islands Covenant) even though 
``unenforceable'' as a matter of law. Congress should not 
indulge such discretionary disposition of the political status 
and civil rights of U.S. citizens in the territories. Instead 
Congress must create a process that defines real status options 
under which the people of Puerto Rico will have real rights 
that are enforceable.
    Given U.S. notification to the U.N. in 1953 that the nature 
of the ``commonwealth'' would be ``as may be interpreted by 
judicial decision,'' it is significant that in 1980 the U.S. 
Supreme Court did not adopt the ``free association'' theory of 
Puerto Rico's status, and ruled instead that Puerto Rico 
remains an unincorporated territory subject to the Territorial 
Clause. Harris v. Rosario, 446 U.S. 651 (1980).
    Recognizing Congress has delegated the powers of local 
self-government over internal affairs and administration to a 
constitutional government which serves the same function in the 
territory that a State government serves in the 50 States of 
the Union, the Supreme Court also has recognized that in such 
internal matters as qualifications to serve in the local 
legislature Puerto Rico functions as an ``autonomous political 
entity'' and ``like a state'' subject to the supremacy ofthe 
Federal Constitution. Rodriguez v. Popular Democratic Party, 457 U.S. 1 
(1982).
    However, in respect of the relationship between the 
territory and the Federal Government, the Harris v. Rosario 
decision is the definitive ruling establishing that the 1952 
process ``in the nature of a compact'' for adopting the local 
constitution did not alter Puerto Rico's status as an 
unincorporated territory subject to the Territorial Clause 
power of Congress. If change is the will of the Puerto Rican 
people concerned and Congress, as the 1993 plebiscite would 
seem to suggest, that can be accomplished through a process 
such as the one prescribed by H.R. 856.
    Those who advocate the ``have-it-both-ways'' legal theory 
and the revisionist version of ``commonwealth'' hold out the 
unattainable myth that Puerto Rico can somehow enjoy in 
perpetuity the most precious American rights of membership in 
the Union and guaranteed citizenship, without having to cast 
its lot or fully share risks and burdens with the rest of the 
American political family.
    But this expansive and unconstitutional ``commonwealth'' 
mythology cannot withstand scrutiny any longer. While sometimes 
confusing the issue by trying to accommodate those on all sides 
of this matter, in relevant formal measures the Congress, the 
Federal courts and the last several Presidents have exercised 
their Constitutional powers with respect to Puerto Rico in a 
manner consistent with applicability of the Territorial Clause, 
continued unincorporated territory status and local self-
government limited to internal affairs. See, U.S. v Sanchez, 
992 F.2d 1143 (1993).
    Supporters of the extra-constitutional theory of 
``commonwealth'' explain this away as merely demonstrating the 
need to perfect free association with permanent union and 
common citizenship which they insist is the status the U.S. and 
U.N. recognized in 1953. For example, supporters of the 
expansive theory of ``commonwealth'' often cite the case of 
U.S. v. Quinones, 758 F.2d 40, (1st Cir. 1985), because dictum 
in that opinion adopted some of the nomenclature of the 
``commonwealth'' doctrine.
    However, the DOJ has pointed out that reliance on this 
dictum to advance the expansive and revisionist theory of 
``commonwealth'' is contradicted by the actual ruling of the 
court in that case, which upheld a Federal law unilaterally 
altering the 1952 constitution and PRFRA without the consent of 
Puerto Rico. See, GAO/HRD-91-18, The U.S. Constitution and the 
Insular Areas, April 12, 1991; Letter to GAO from Assistant 
Attorney General of the United States, Appendix VIII, House 
Report 104-713, Part 1.
    In formulating H.R. 3024 in the 104th Congress so that 
these complex issues could be sorted out, the Committee 
originally presented a two part ballot in an attempt to 
distinguish between the options for full self-government and 
continuation of a less than fully self-governing status, and to 
clarify the legal nature of the present commonwealth structure 
for self-government under a local constitution subject to the 
Federal Constitutional process.
    Because this good-faith attempt to be truthful with the 
people of Puerto Rico was unfortunately portrayed by many in 
Puerto Rico as ``unfair'' and the matter became politicized, 
the Committee agreed to a one part ballot with three options 
presented side-by-side--commonwealth, independence and 
statehood. This revision to H.R. 3024 is reflected in H.R. 856.
    To avoid any suggestions that the Committee is being unfair 
in formulating a definition of ``commonwealth'' for the ballot 
provisions of this legislation, at the time H.R. 856 was 
introduced the Committee invited all three political parties to 
submit the definitions of the status option each endorses for 
consideration by the Committee. The Committee agreed that each 
such proposal would be submitted for a vote before the 
Committee if the concerned political party so desired.
    At the Committee meeting on May 21, 1997, to consider H.R. 
856, the Committee Chairman offered an amendment in the nature 
of a substitute to H.R. 856 which incorporated as much of the 
language from the proposals made by the local political parties 
as the Chairman believed to be consistent with truth, accuracy 
and fairness to the people of Puerto Rico in light of their 
aspirations for an informed act of self-determination. The 
amendment offered by the Chairman includes changes to the 
definitions of all three status options based on consultations 
with and/or communications and proposals from the 
Administration, the Minority and the three political parties. 
The separate sovereignty definition contains many aspects of 
the independence party's proposal, including free trade, free 
transit, and the future status of the U.S. military status in 
Puerto Rico. The leadership of the independence and statehood 
parties informed the Committee that they were able to accept 
the definitions proposed in the Chairman's amendment.
    Only the commonwealth party was unable to support the 
definition as proposed to and ultimately adopted by the 
Committee, which includes specific aspects of the commonwealth 
party's definition of ``commonwealth'' regarding Puerto Rico 
constitutional self-government, United States nationality and 
citizenship and rights, privileges, and immunities, and levels 
of Federal benefits and taxes extended to Puerto Rico. Thus, it 
is necessary in this report to further analyze the commonwealth 
party's definition of ``commonwealth.''

New ``commonwealth'' proposal

    In response to the March 3, 1997, invitation of the 
Committee, on April 9, 1997, the PDP submitted a letter 
memorializing the new ``commonwealth'' definition presented at 
the March 19, 1997, hearing in Washington, D.C., including a 
mechanism for Congress to consider proposals by Puerto Rico to 
improve and reform the relationship in the future.
    Of course, under the current status, improvements to the 
``commonwealth'' relationship can be proposed to Congress at 
any time. Thus, there is a strong argument to be made that to 
determine the ultimate status of the island the choices should 
not be based on what each political party hopes or proposes the 
status might become once a particular status is approved, but 
to the greatest extent possible must be made based on 
definitions of the Constitutional structures through which the 
future of Puerto Rico will be determined if a particular status 
is approved by Congress and the people.
    In other words, rather than containing primarily proposals 
for beneficial implementingprovisions that may or may not be 
approved by Congress in the future under a particular status option, 
the status definitions should inform the voter primarily about the 
structural relationship which will exists between the U.S. and Puerto 
Rico under each status alternative. This better informs the people of 
the Constitutional structure through which their proposals for 
beneficial implementation will be approved or disapproved by Congress.
    As noted throughout this report, Puerto Rico is an 
unincorporated territory of the U.S. with internal self-
government under a local constitution approved by the people. 
This form of internal self-government is subject to the 
supremacy of the Constitution and laws of the United States as 
made applicable by Congress in the exercise of its authority 
and responsibility for territories under the Territorial Clause 
of the Constitution.
    This is the structure within which the relationship can be 
improved as long as commonwealth status as a territory 
continues. Yet, those who support continuation of the current 
Federal-territorial relationship--denominated under both 
Federal law and the local constitution as the Commonwealth of 
Puerto Rico--have advised Congress that any definition of the 
current status as ``territorial'' is unacceptable to the 
supporters of the ``commonwealth'' status.
    Therefore, commonwealth leaders proposed that Congress 
offer that option to the voters in an ``enhanced'' form based 
on the aspirations of their party. The position of these party 
leaders is that failure to include their proposals for future 
changes in Federal law and policy effectively would exclude 
them and their supporters from the self-determination process.
    On that basis it is proposed by party leaders who have 
submitted the new ``commonwealth'' definition to the Committee 
that this option be included on the ballot under H.R. 856 on 
terms which include the power of nullification over Federal 
law; conversion of the current permissive statutory citizenship 
into the same permanent citizenship as persons born in the 
States of the Union; extension to the unincorporated territory 
of the same rights, benefits and privileges under all Federal 
laws as are applicable in the States of the Union; and 
exemption from Federal income taxation but full Federal 
programs and services as in the States, with an undefined 
``equitable contribution.'' All of this, like the 1993 
definition of ``commonwealth,'' would be guaranteed by the 
Constitution and binding for all time on Congress.
    The Committee notes that the local political party in 
Puerto Rico which is identified with commonwealth has taken the 
position that the definition in H.R. 856 of the current 
commonwealth structure as it actually exists under Federal law 
is unacceptable, because it does not reflect the enhanced 
version of that status proposed by that party. While the local 
political parties have an important role in the self-
determination process, no party has a monopoly over the 
definition which Congress is willing and able to recognize. 
There is no right of ``mutual consent'' to the ballot 
definition of any status.
    In addition to seeking a legitimate process for the voters, 
it is in the U.S. national interest for Congress to be able to 
interpret the results of a referendum under this legislation. 
Accurate definitions as determined by Congress are essential to 
meaningful results.
    As already noted, the definitions of ``independence'' and 
``statehood'' in H.R. 856 as approved by the Committee are 
different from the versions submitted by and requested by the 
local political parties which endorse those options. Thus, the 
Committee has demonstrated its resolve to exercise reason and 
judgment about what definitions will fairly and fully inform 
the voters of the structure of each available status option.
    Instead of presenting Congress with the same version of the 
``commonwealth'' definition formulated for the 1993 ballot, the 
leaders of that party have chosen in 1997 simply to revive the 
``unalterable bilateral pact'' in the form of the new 
``commonwealth'' package submitted to the Committee on 
Resources in response to its invitation to submit a definition.
    As proposed, this relationship would somehow be beyond the 
reach of Congressional legislative authority, supposedly immune 
from alteration without Puerto Rico's ``mutual consent.'' Under 
this proposal, Puerto Rico would be neither a State, nor a 
territory, but would exist as a category by itself.
    This new ``commonwealth'' package is not new at all. During 
the last Congress, the PDP President wrote to the Chairman of 
the Committee on Resources on May 31, 1996, stating the 
``commonwealth'' definition in the 1993 plebiscite was derived 
from the new ``commonwealth'' definition ``approved'' by the 
House in 1990 in the form of H.R. 4765. The 1997 PDP proposal 
for new ``commonwealth'' is virtually the same as the 1990 
version referred to in the PDP letter to Chairman Young.
    However, the actual language of the new ``commonwealth'' 
proposal which now has been offered was not included in the 
bill approved by the House in 1990. Instead, H.R. 4765 
contained the option of a ``New Commonwealth Status'' without 
defining its meaning. Apart from the bill itself, the new 
``commonwealth'' definition was included in House Report 101-
790, Part 1, accompanying H.R. 4765, along with definitions of 
``statehood'' and ``independence'' submitted by the political 
parties concerned, not as a statement of Congressional policy, 
but as expressions of the aspirations of those political 
parties. Furthermore, the House Report expressly commented that 
the PDP proposals included in the report would be considered, 
but that did not ``obligate this Committee or its counterpart 
Senate committee to necessarily incorporate the * * * 
description * * * in the legislation.'' That means the 1990 
bill did not commit Congress to any version of 
``commonwealth.''
    Also, under the 1990 House bill the present status would 
have been continued if there was a majority vote for ``None of 
the above.'' In this way, definition of the current status as 
it is was avoided.

Conclusion

    H.R. 856 will provide the first Congressionally-sponsored 
process leading to full self-government for Puerto Rico since 
United States sovereignty was established nearly 100 years ago. 
The people of Puerto Rico can achieve full self-government 
through separate sovereignty or statehood, if a majority are 
ready for change, or continue the current commonwealth 
structurefor local self-government as a territory. The United 
States-Puerto Rico Political Status Act will enable Congress to ensure 
that U.S. sovereignty continues to be exercised in Puerto Rico in a 
manner consistent with the national interest and the principle of self-
determination.

                            committee action

    H.R. 856 was introduced on February 27, 1997, Congressman 
Don Young (R-AK), Chairman of the Committee on Resources. A 
total of 87 Members are cosponsoring the bill, including the 
Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA), and Resident 
Commissioner Carlos A. Romero-Barcelo (D-PR). Three Full 
Committee hearings were held on the bill: March 19, 1997, in 
Washington D.C.; April 19, 1997, in San Juan, Puerto Rico; and 
April 21, 1997, in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The Administration 
testified at the Washington hearing with general observations 
of the bill and expressing support of the process and 
objectives of the legislation. Over 50 witnesses appeared at 
the hearings including top government officials from the 
legislative and executive branches of the government of Puerto 
Rico, a number of mayors from the Puerto Rico municipal 
governments, and various other leaders and individuals evenly 
representing the three status options of commonwealth, separate 
sovereignty (including outright independence and separate 
sovereignty in free association), and statehood.
    On May 21, 1997, the Committee met to mark up H.R. 856. 
Three amendments were offered. First, Chairman Don Young 
offered an amendment in the nature of a substitute with changes 
to 40 provisions. Although the bulk of the changes were 
technical in nature, the primary changes streamlined the three-
stage process by eliminating two presidential proclamations, 
changing the duration of the transition stage from a minimum of 
10 years to not more than 10 years, and specifying that the 
proposed implementation legislation from the President is in 
the nature of a Joint Resolution recommending the effective 
date of implementation within the transition period.
    Other changes were made to all three status definitions of 
``commonwealth,'' ``separate sovereignty,'' and ``statehood'' 
to clarify the characteristics associated with each status. In 
addition, the requirement for periodic referenda in the event 
there is no majority for separate sovereignty or statehood was 
modified from once every four years, to not less than once 
every ten years. Another change required the transition plan 
under a majority vote for statehood to include the effective 
date in which the Constitution is to have the same force and 
effect as in the several States.
    To the Young amendment, Congressman George Miller (D-CA) 
offered an amendment substituting the ``commonwealth'' 
definition with the ``commonwealth'' definition submitted by 
the Puerto Rico political party advocating commonwealth. The 
amendment failed on a roll call vote of 10-32, as follows:


    Also to the Young amendment, Resident Commissioner Carlos 
Romero-Barcelo offered an en bloc amendment shifting a separate 
sovereignty measure from the transition stage to the ballot 
definition as requested by the Puerto Rico party advocating 
separate sovereignty, and clarifying the transition plan is in 
fact to reflect the status which received the majority in the 
initial decision stage vote. The amendment passed on voice 
vote. The Young amendment in the nature of a substitute, as 
amended, was adopted by voice vote and the bill was favorably 
reported to the House of Representatives by a 44 to 1 vote, as 
follows:


                      section-by-section analysis

Section 1. Short title; table of contents
    This provision contains the Short Title by which the bill 
will be known once it becomes an Act, as well as the Table of 
Contents.
Section 2. Findings
    This Section contains the findings of Congress with respect 
to political status and self-determination in the case of 
Puerto Rico, which are self-explanatory in most respects, 
especially when read in the context of the historical and legal 
materials reviewed in the first part of this report, including 
Resolution 2, adopted by the Legislature of Puerto Rico on 
January 23, 1997. To ensure that important matters of 
interpretation will not be made without adequate certainty once 
this legislation has been enacted, material included by the 
Committee to reflect its understandings and intentions with 
regard to this bill is presented under the first part of the 
report, and as discussed below.
    Finding 1. This finding recognizes that the United States 
exercises sovereignty with respect to Puerto Rico pursuant to 
the Treaty of Paris (30 Stat. 1754), Article IX of which 
established that the inhabitants of the territory not eligible 
for or electing to retain Spanish nationality thereupon 
acquired the nationality of the United States of America, and 
consequently owed allegiance to and enjoyed the protection of 
this Nation.
    Under Article IX of the Treaty, which continues to have the 
full force and effect of United States law, it is provided that 
the ``civil rights and political status of the native 
inhabitants'' of Puerto Rico ``shall be determined by the 
Congress.'' Based upon the full sovereignty of the United 
States in Puerto Rico as so established, all Federal authority 
and responsibility with respect to Puerto Rico, including that 
set forth in Article IX of the Treaty of Paris, is are carried 
out in accordance with laws of the United States enacted by 
Congress in the exercise of its powers under the Territorial 
Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
    Finding 2. Article IX of the Treaty of Paris provided that 
the inhabitants of the territory of Puerto Rico were held to 
have ``nationality of the territory.'' In Gonzales v. Williams 
(192 U.S. 1 (1904)), the U.S. Supreme Court stated with respect 
to the status of Puerto Rico that under the terms of the treaty 
of cession the ``nationality of the island became American.'' 
In Gonzales the court ruled that under the terms of the treaty 
the inhabitants of Puerto Rico had no foreign or separate 
nationality, were not ``aliens'' under the immigration act of 
1891, and were under the ``protection'' of the United States.
    In an exercise of its Territorial Clause authority, 
Congress implemented Article IX of the Treaty of Paris by 
conferring the status of ``citizens of Puerto Rico'' on the 
inhabitants of the territory under Section 7 of the Foraker Act 
of 1900, and prescribing the rights of persons having that 
status. It is clear that the umbrella of U.S. nationality had 
been extended to the territory, and that the status of 
``citizens of Puerto Rico'' constituted a form of citizenship 
which was a subset ofU.S. nationality. There is no basis for 
the assertion that separate Puerto Rican nationality was created 
because a separate class of citizenship had been established pursuant 
to the treaty of cession and the Territorial Clause.
    In Section 5 of the Jones Act of 1917 Congress extended 
U.S. citizenship to Puerto Rico, with less than 250 people 
availing themselves of the right to remain ``citizens of Puerto 
Rico'' by complying with prescribed procedures within six 
months of the effective date of the Jones Act. Again, all U.S. 
citizens, whether residing in one of the states, the U.S. 
territories including Puerto Rico, as well as those who 
remained ``citizens of Puerto Rico'' under the Jones Act, had 
one ``nationality'' regardless of the legal basis and 
classification of their ``citizenship'' under applicable law.
    Since the enactment by Congress of Section 202 of the 
Nationality Act of 1940, followed by the enactment of Section 
302 of the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1952, now 
codified at 8 U.S.C. 1402, all persons who were U.S. citizens 
or ``citizens of Puerto Rico'' under the Jones Act have the 
status of U.S. citizens, as well as the underlying U.S. 
nationality established by Article IX of the Treaty of Paris. 
The status of ``citizen of Puerto Rico'' is not a separate 
Puerto Rican nationality, a substitute for, or an alternative 
to the U.S. citizenship status established for the inhabitants 
of Puerto Rico under 8 U.S.C. 1402, much less the underlying 
nationality arising from the Treaty of cession.
    The citizenship provisions of the Foraker Act no longer 
apply to persons born in Puerto Rico, and no longer define the 
status of any person. The term ``citizen of Puerto Rico'' under 
1 LPRA Sec. 7 (based on Section 10 of the Political Code of 
Puerto Rico), now has a meaning equivalent to local citizenship 
or residency in the States. Rather than being a form of 
citizenship based on or having the same meaning as nationality 
conferred by a national sovereign, ``citizenship'' of Puerto 
Rico is a status created under the limited jurisdiction of the 
local government. It is no different than the residency status 
defined by Congress for Puerto Rico in 48 U.S.C. 733a.
    H.R. 856 does not deny Constitutionally permanent 
citizenship to people born in Puerto Rico. Instead, it honestly 
recognizes that Puerto Rico has not yet achieved Constitutional 
integration with the U.S. sufficient to secure for persons born 
there the same or equal citizenship status and rights as 
Americans born or naturalized in the States of the Union. As a 
permanent feature of U.S. Constitutional law, the 14th 
Amendment protections which make U.S. citizenship irrevocable 
only apply in the case of person born or naturalized in one of 
the States of the Union.
    Of course, under the Territorial Clause Congress can 
approve a statute extending any provision of the Constitution 
and laws of the United States to Puerto Rico or any other 
unincorporated territory. However, a future Congress will not 
be bound by the statute, and can repeal the law. Admission of a 
territory to statehood under Article IV of the Constitution is 
the only way to bind Congress forever to political union and 
application of the Constitution and laws of the United States 
on the basis of permanent equality.
    As discussed earlier, in the 1970 case of Rogers v. Bellei 
(401 U.S. 815), the Supreme Court of the United States limited 
to persons whose citizenship is based on birth or 
naturalization in the States of the Union. In ruling that the 
14th Amendment does not make citizenship permanent or 
irrevocable in the case of persons born outside the U.S. whose 
citizenship is conferred by statute, and that Congress can 
terminate U.S. non-constitutional citizenship by the same power 
through which it is granted, the court stated that:

          The central fact, in our weighing of the plaintiff's 
        claim to continuing and therefore current United States 
        citizenship, is that he was born abroad. He was not 
        born in the United States. He was not naturalized in 
        the United States * * * All this being so, it seems 
        indisputable that the first sentence of the Fourteenth 
        Amendment has no application to plaintiff Bellei. He 
        simply is not a Fourteenth Amendment first-sentence 
        citizen. His posture contrasts with that of Mr. 
        Afroyim, who was naturalized in the United States * * 
        *.

    Thus, the U.S. Constitution has been judicially interpreted 
by the high court of last resort to establish that persons born 
outside the U.S. in a foreign country who acquire statutory 
U.S. citizenship based on the U.S. citizenship of parents do 
not have the permanent and Constitutionally-guaranteed 
citizenship that people acquire upon birth in a State.
    This is the same situation in which people born in Puerto 
Rico find themselves. The statutory citizenship of Bellei was 
established under 8 U.S.C. 1401 based on birth outside the 
States to U.S. citizens parents. The U.S. citizenship of 
persons born in Puerto Rico was established under 8 U.S.C. 
1402, based on birth in an unincorporated territory. In the 
case of both nationality of parents or location of birth in an 
area under U.S. jurisdiction and sovereignty but not a State, 
there is no Constitutional protection under the 14th Amendment. 
Rather, as the Supreme Court stated in Bellei about the type of 
citizenship granted under 8 U.S.C. 1401, ``That type, and any 
other not covered by the Fourteenth Amendment, was necessarily 
left to proper congressional action.''
    Unlike a person who U.S. citizenship arises from birth to 
an American parent overseas, persons whose statutory U.S. 
citizenship is based on birth in Puerto Rico are ``subject to 
the jurisdiction of the United States.'' This means that in 
addition to having citizenship that is not Constitutionally 
guaranteed, persons born in Puerto Rico live under U.S. laws 
enacted in a political process in which they have less than 
equal political rights.
    Thus, just as the Supreme Court says in the Bellei case 
that Congress could return to the situation before the current 
immigration laws were adopted, in which persons born outside 
the U.S. to an American parent did not automatically acquire 
U.S. citizenship, ``proper congressional action'' in the case 
of Puerto Rico could include a return to the arrangement in the 
1900 through 1917 period before Congress made birth in Puerto 
Rico a basis for statutory citizenship.
     Under the 1922 case of Balzac v. People of Puerto Rico 
(258 U.S. 298), the U.S. must exercise its powers consistent 
with the fundamental due process rights that constrain our 
government wherever it acts. In the case of citizenship in 
Puerto Rico, this means Congress would have to repeal 8 U.S.C. 
1402 by a subsequent statute for what Congress determines to be 
legitimate Federal purposes.
    The recognition by Congress of a separate Puerto Rican 
nationality or sovereignty would provide the basis for such an 
action, as would a determination by Congress that full 
incorporation and statehood is not intended. That is what 
Congress decided in the case of the Philippines in 1916.
    The application of due process to the actions of the 
Federal Government in the exercise of U.S. sovereignty in 
Puerto Rico does not mean Congress cannot determine the 
citizenship of people born there as it deems consistent with 
the national interest. The only way to secure Constitutionally-
protected citizenship is to complete the process of 
Constitutional integration so that people born in Puerto Rico 
also will be born in a State of the Union for purposes of the 
14th Amendment.
    As the Supreme Court stated in the Bellei decision, the 
attempt to transform the permissive statutory citizenship into 
an irrevocable status binding on the U.S. in perpetuity, ``* * 
*  would convert what is congressional generosity into 
something unanticipated and obviously undesired by Congress.''
    Finding (3). It is important to recognize that Congress can 
extend the provisions of the Constitution and laws of the 
United States to an unincorporated territory by statute, and it 
can subsequently amend, modify or repeal application of any 
such statute to the territories.
    An unincorporated territory which has local self-government 
over internal affairs under a constitution approved by the 
local residents has been referred to as a ``commonwealth'' in 
the case of both Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands. 
These unincorporated territories remain subject to the 
authority of Congress under the Territorial Clause, but have 
relations with the Federal Government consistent with 
applicable organic legislation and local constitutional 
enabling acts as long as those acts are in effect.
    In the case of Reid v. Covert, the U.S. Supreme Court 
accurately described the Territorial Clause power as one which 
arises from the need for Congress, ``* * * to provide rules and 
regulations to govern temporarily territories with wholly 
dissimilar traditions and institutions * * *'' [emphasis 
added]. The central concept which must be recognized is that 
the Territorial Clause power was never intended to provide a 
Constitutional framework for the permanent disenfranchisement 
of U.S. citizens who have established traditions and 
institutions of self-government similar to our own.
    Once a territory is prepared constitutionally, politically, 
legally and socially for full self-government through 
incorporation or separate nationhood, Congress and the people 
concerned eventually must face the moment of truth. In the case 
of 36 States of the Union we have examples of decisions by 
Congress and the territorial body politic to resolve the 
ultimate status of territories in favor of incorporation 
leading to statehood--including the case of Hawaii which has 
many parallels to the Puerto Rico situation. Only Texas was 
admitted into the Union without being a territory, directly 
from its prior status as the separate sovereign Republic of 
Texas.
    The Philippines is an example of a territory acquired under 
the same Treaty of Paris terms under which Puerto Rico was 
ceded to the U.S., and Congress resolved that status question 
in favor of independence.
    There are prominent leaders in Puerto Rico who believe 
there is no practical alternative to the current status. Of 
course, Congress must determine if continuing unincorporated 
territory status for an indefinite period serves the national 
interest. The U.S. also has a right to self-determination, and 
Section 9 of U.N. Resolution 748 accepting the current Puerto 
Rico status expressly recognizes that both the U.S. and Puerto 
Rico, as parties to this present relationship, have the right 
to initiate further self-determination to later the 
relationship.
    As noted by former a distinguished former member of the 
Committee with extensive expertise in insular law and policy, 
Robert J. Lagomarsino, in the statement submitted in connection 
with the hearings on H.R. 856 on March 19, 1997, the U.S. has 
the option of terminating the current status in favor of 
independence if mutually agreed terms for continued association 
cannot be achieved. No one expects that to occur, but in 
response to the theory and argument that the U.S. is somehow 
bound in a relationship based on adhesion, the Committee feels 
compelled to state for the record that Congress retains full 
authority under the Territorial Clause power to ensure that 
U.S. sovereignty is exercised in the case of Puerto Rico in a 
manner consistent with the national interest.
    Finding (4). In 1950 Congress, followed by the residents of 
Puerto Rico in a referendum, approved the terms set forth in a 
Federal statute (Public Law 81-600) under which local 
constitutional self-government over internal affairs in Puerto 
Rico would be adopted. This statutory procedure was ``in the 
nature of a compact'' to follow the specified procedure leading 
to internal self-government under a local constitution, and by 
its terms Public Law 81-600 did not address the issue of Puerto 
Rico's ultimate political status.
    Neither the vote to approve Public Law 81-600 in 1951, nor 
the vote to approve the local constitution in 1952 presented 
the residents with the political status alternatives of 
independence or statehood. Rather, those votes were on approval 
or disapproval first of Public Law 81-600 as the procedure for 
establishing local self-government under a constitution, and 
then on approval or disapproval of the constitution itself. 
These votes were, however, historic and significant acts of 
self-determination pursuant to which the institutions of local 
self-government were established and the residents of Puerto 
Rico were enabled to exercise sovereignty over internal affairs 
of the territory.
    The 1952 constitution did not create a permanent status for 
Puerto Rico under the U.S. Constitution binding upon a future 
Congress, nor did it recognize a separate nationalsovereignty 
for Puerto Rico. Rather, the Public Law 81-600 procedure constituted a 
delegation to Puerto Rico by Congress of powers of administration 
subject to the retained Territorial Clause authority of Congress with 
respect to governance in matters within the local sovereignty of a new 
constitutional government as approved by Congress and the residents of 
the territory. The nature of Puerto Rico's status in this respect was 
properly discerned by the Federal judiciary in the case of U.S. v. 
Sanchez, 992 F.2d 1143 (1993).
    It is also important to note that even though the Spanish 
translation of ``commonwealth'' means ``free associated 
state,'' Puerto Rico did not enter into the international 
status of ``free association'' as recognized by the U.N., nor 
did Puerto Rico establish a relationship to this Nation of 
``free association'' as recognized by the United States, as a 
result of adopting local constitutional self-government.
    The Committee notes that there have been attempts to 
explain the use of the term ``free associated state'' in 
Spanish and ``commonwealth'' in English as a measure taken to 
avoid a misunderstanding and ensure that Puerto Rico's new 
status under the 1952 local constitution was not confused with 
the status of the States of the Union. This is curious for two 
reasons.
    First, there was and is little risk that anyone would 
confuse Puerto Rico's status under Public Law 81-600 with 
statehood simply because it is described as that of a free 
associated state, while there was and is a high likelihood of 
confusion between the term ``free associated state'' and free 
association as that term is used to describe the status of an 
associated republic with separate national sovereignty. Since 
Puerto Rico did not achieve separate national sovereignty and 
simply exercises delegated local sovereignty subject to the 
supremacy of Federal law, use of the term ``free associated 
state'' in Spanish and ``commonwealth'' in English created a 
far greater risk of confusion, and actually caused a great deal 
of misunderstanding, than would have occurred if either of 
these two labels had been used in both Spanish and English.
    The second curious thing about the explanation given for 
the use of different terminology is that both the PDP as the 
party which endorses commonwealth and the Federal Government 
have accepted and promoted the treatment of Puerto Rico as a 
State to the extent practical and consistent with the U.S. 
Constitution and Public Law 81-600. The Bush memorandum of 
1992, the case of Rodriguez v. Popular Democratic Party, and 
this bill, H.R. 856, are examples of all three branches of 
government encouraging ``state-like'' treatment of Puerto Rico 
on the basis of the present structure of local self-government.
    This does not create confusion because it is clear from the 
organic documents creating the current status that Puerto 
Rico's current status is not equivalent to statehood because it 
is not Constitutionally permanent or guaranteed. Rather than 
being permanently protected by the 10th Amendment, the status 
of Puerto Rico is defined by statute and is subject to the 
discretion of Congress under the Territorial Clause.
    There is full awareness in the Federal Government that the 
Spanish term for the current status is ``free associated 
state,'' and the real concern is that this has been used to 
confuse people in Puerto Rico about whether their current 
status is that of a U.S. territory or a ``state'' as that term 
is used in international law, with separate national 
sovereignty. In this regard, the Committee notes with concern 
what seems almost to be a misinformation campaign in Puerto 
Rico about international law and practice as well as U.S. 
Constitutional practice as it relates to the legal nature of 
free association. The Committee therefore appreciates and 
regards as authoritative the analysis of free association which 
was submitted by Ambassador Fred M. Zeder in connection with 
the hearing on H.R. 856 conducted by the Committee on March 19, 
1997. Ambassador Zeder was President Reagan's Personal 
Representative and the U.S. Chief Negotiator who concluded 
negotiations with the constitutional governments of the Trust 
Territory of the Pacific Islands, administered by the U.S. 
under a U.N. trusteeship from 1947 until decolonization was 
achieved in 1986.
    Findings 5 and 6. Because of the ``attributes of political 
sovereignty'' recognized by the U.N. in Resolution 748, though 
established ``in a free and democratic'' manner, remain subject 
to U.S. Constitutional process, the U.N. expressly recognized 
in Section 9 of Resolution 748 that ``the will of both the 
Puerto Rican and American peoples'' would be respected in the 
future ``in the eventuality that either of the parties to the 
mutually agreed association may desire any change in the terms 
of this association.''
    On the same day that the U.N. General Assembly adopted 
Resolution 748, it also adopted resolution 742 (VIII), which 
defined the criteria for a ``treaty or bilateral agreement'' 
which would constitute a legitimate associated state 
relationship consistent with the right of fully sovereign self-
government as opposed to local self-government, and these 
criteria included ``* * * the freedom of the population of a 
Territory * * * to modify at any time this status * * * 
Representation without discrimination in the central 
legislative organs on the same basis as other inhabitants and 
regions * * * [and] Citizenship without discrimination on the 
same basis as other inhabitants'' of the nation with which the 
territory is associated.
    In response and rebuttal to criticism in the U.N. in 
ensuing years based upon, among other things, perceived 
variance between the criteria set forth in Resolution 742 and 
the status of Puerto Rico accepted by the U.N. under Resolution 
748, every U.S. President since 1953 has confirmed, consistent 
with Section 9 of Resolution 748, that the United States 
continues to recognize the right of self-determination for the 
residents of Puerto Rico, and that this right can be exercised 
in favor of independence if that status is freely chosen by the 
voters and approved through the applicable Constitutional 
processes of the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
    The three status options set forth in U.N. Resolution 1541 
form an internationally-recognized basis for completion of a 
process leading to full self-government. Those established 
forms of full self-government include national independence, 
separate sovereignty in free association, or full integration 
within anothernation, which under the U.S. Constitutional 
system is statehood.
    Finding (7). The decisions of the United States Supreme 
Court in the 1980 case of Harris v. Rosario (446 U.S. 651) and 
the 1981 case of Rodriguez v. Popular Democratic Party (457 
U.S. 1) constitute judicial interpretations which, when taken 
together, confirm that, consistent with the national 
sovereignty of the United States in Puerto Rico, Congress 
continues to exercise authority and responsibility to determine 
the application of Federal law in Puerto Rico pursuant the 
Territorial Clause, and that the residents of Puerto Rico enjoy 
a prescribed degree of local sovereignty over internal matters 
which arise under the local constitution adopted in 1952 
pursuant to Public Law 81-600.
    Thus, neither the delegation of government limited 
authority over internal affairs through authorization for the 
adoption of a local constitution under Public Law 81-600, nor 
the diplomatic measures taken by the United States in 1953 to 
fulfill its obligations and inform the U.N. with respect to the 
self-determination process for Puerto Rico, have altered the 
status of Puerto Rico as an unincorporated territory the United 
States subject to the authority of Congress under the 
Territorial Clause.
    The two decisions referred to above also correctly reflect 
that Puerto Rico has political autonomy under the local 
constitution, but that all local measures of self-government 
promulgated through the internal constitutional process must be 
in conformity with the laws of the United States and provisions 
of the U.S. Constitution applicable to Puerto Rico as 
determined by Congress.
    Thus, the local sovereignty which has been conferred by 
Congress pursuant to Public Law 81-600 is--as noted in the 
Rodriguez opinion--analogous to the sovereignty that States 
retain in the Federal Union. However, the sovereignty of a 
locally self-governing unincorporated territory is not 
coextensive with that of a State, due to the fact that the 
sovereignty of the States is permanently reserved under the 
10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In contrast, the local 
sovereignty of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is established 
within the framework of Public Law 81-600, a statutory measure 
for the governance of Puerto Rico which is not a permanent 
status under the Federal Constitution or binding upon Congress 
or the people of the United States in the future, as recognized 
in Section 9 of U.N. Resolution 748.
    Finding (10). Since the ``commonwealth'' option on the 1993 
ballot was defined differently than the current status of 
Puerto Rico, these results strongly suggest that for the first 
time since Resolution 748 was adopted by the U.N. the will of 
the people is to modify the present association as contemplated 
by Section 9 of that U.N. document. See discussion of findings 
5-6, above.
    Finding (11). As the degree of self-government and social 
development in the various territories of the United States has 
evolved, appropriate administrative arrangements have been put 
in place within the Executive Branch. For example, 35 years 
after Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the U.S. under the Treaty of 
Paris, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ended the role of the 
Department of War as the lead agency for managing Federal 
policy toward the territory and assigned that responsibility to 
the Department of the Interior under Executive Order 6726 (May 
29, 1934).
    The practice of designating the Department of the Interior 
to manage relations between the unincorporated territories and 
the Federal Government, including those which had been under 
military administration due to the circumstances under which 
the U.S. acquired and/or exercised sovereignty, was followed by 
President Truman in, for example, the case of Guam (Executive 
Order 10077, September 7, 1949), and American Samoa (Executive 
Order 10264, June 29, 1951). In other cases, Congress has 
prescribed by statute the role of the Department of the 
Interior, as, for example, in the case of the U.S. Virgin 
Islands (48 U.S.C. 1541).
    Of more immediate relevance here, however, is the manner in 
which the U.S. has organized itself with respect to Puerto Rico 
and the Northern Mariana Islands, the two unincorporated 
territories which have implemented a commonwealth structure of 
local self-government over internal affairs under constitutions 
approved by the residents of each territory.
    Establishment of local constitutional government in the 
``Commonwealth of Puerto Rico'' was authorized by Congress 
under Public Law 81-600 in 1950, and in the ``Commonwealth of 
the Northern Mariana Islands'' by Public Law 94-241 in 1976.
    In the case of Puerto Rico, the local constitution took 
effect in 1952, but it was not until July 25, 1961, that 
President John F. Kennedy issued a memorandum regarding the 
establishment of self-government ``in respect of internal 
affairs and administration.'' This instrument did not assign 
responsibility for managing Federal policy on Puerto Rico to 
any one department, but simply notified all Federal authorities 
to act in a manner consistent with the advent of local 
territorial government under a constitution approved by the 
residents of the territory. The Kennedy memo also stated, ``If 
any matters arise involving fundamentals of this arrangement, 
they should be referred to the Office of the President.''
    In the case of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana 
Islands (CNMI), the U.S. administered but did not have 
sovereignty over the Northern Mariana Islands under a U.N. 
trusteeship beginning in 1947, but in 1976 the people had voted 
to come within U.S. sovereignty as an unincorporated territory 
with U.S. citizenship and internal self-government under a 
local constitution approved by the people. However, the status 
of those islands as an unincorporated territory of the U.S. 
with that ``commonwealth'' structure of local self-government 
did not become fully effective until the U.N. trusteeship was 
terminated in 1986. Thereupon, President Reagan issued 
Executive Order 12572 on November 3, 1986, acknowledging that 
other departments and agencies have specific on-going program 
responsibilities, but assigning ``general administrative 
supervision'' of Federal policy and programs in CNMI to the 
Department of the Interior.
    The inconsistency in the administrative arrangements for 
managing these two ``commonwealth'' territories does not reveal 
or create any legal or political distinctions between them. 
Indeed, it is interesting to note that in 1935 the Philippines 
became a self-governing ``commonwealth'' as part of the 
transition of that body politic from unincorporated territory 
status to separate sovereignty based on national independence.
    On November 30, 1992, President George Bush issued a 
superseding memorandum which confirmed the Kennedy memo 
notification of Federal authorities to implement measures in 
Puerto Rico consistent with the fact that Puerto Rico is a 
self-governing territory with a commonwealth structure, and to 
refer any fundamental questions about Puerto Rico's status to 
the Office of the President.
    However, reflecting intervening rulings of the U.S. Supreme 
Court providing judicial interpretation of the status of Puerto 
Rico and the change in the world order between 1961 and 1992, 
the Bush memo also recognized the need for further self-
determination in Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent status. For 
example, consistent with the ruling of the Supreme Court in 
Rodriguez v. Popular Democratic Party, 457 U.S. 1 (1982), the 
Bush memo directed departments and agencies to treat Puerto 
Rico the same as States are treated to the extent practicable.
    On December 2, 1994, President William Clinton sent a 
letter to the Ranking Republican on the House Committee on 
Natural Resources, the then incoming and current Chairman of 
the Committee on Resources, advising that an ``Interagency 
Working Group on Puerto Rico'' had been organized within the 
Executive Branch to ``ensure serious attention to Puerto Rico's 
circumstances, needs and proposals.'' The Interagency Group 
includes several offices within the White House and the Office 
of Management and Budget.
    Finding (12). In addition to its relevance to the purposes 
of the bill and the initial decision stage as provided in 
Section 4(a), this finding bears on the requirement for 
Congress to complete the process for resolving the ultimate 
status of Puerto Rico through the transition and implementation 
stages pursuant to Sections 4(b) and 4(c), including in the 
event of an inconclusive vote result to exercise its authority 
to complete the decolonization process consistent with the 
principle of self-determination.
    Finding (15). This finding is the most singular, essential 
and critical expression of the Committee's intentions and 
purpose in approving H.R. 856. The previous comment regarding 
Finding (12) is fully applicable with respect to Finding (15).

Section 3. Policy

    This Section provides the Congressionally-prescribed U.S. 
policy framework for the self-determination process established 
by the bill. The most important policy statement is that the 
legislation is adopted by Congress with a commitment to 
encourage the process through which a permanent and full self-
governing status is achieved. Only that will end the 
disenfranchisement of the people of Puerto Rico.
    Subsection 3(b) addresses the 100 year history of English 
and Spanish as official languages, makes it clear that English 
language requirements could be imposed on Puerto Rico as a 
commonwealth that could not be imposed on Puerto Rico if it 
were a State, and calls for application in Puerto Rico of any 
national law on language if statehood is implemented.

Section 4. Process for Puerto Rican full self-government, including the 
        initial decision stage, transition stage and implementation 
        stage

    This central element of the bill prescribes the three 
stages of the process leading to full self-government, 
requiring approval of Congress and submission of the question 
of whether to move to the next stage as each previous stage is 
completed.
    Initial Decision Stage. Section 4(a) provides for a status 
referendum to be held in Puerto Rico before the end of 1998, in 
which voters will make choices presented in a three-way ballot 
with commonwealth, independence and statehood offered side-by-
side. The Committee realizes that many in Puerto Rico have 
argued that placing commonwealth alongside the options for full 
self-government may permit some to assert that the current 
status can be made Constitutionally permanent when that is not 
the case. However, to avoid any perception of unfairness to any 
party the three options are being presented together.
    Thus, the options on the ballot are:
          (A) to retain the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico status 
        as an unincorporated territory;
          (B) full self-government through separate sovereignty 
        in the form of independence or free association; or
          (C) full self-government through Statehood.
    Transition Stage. Under Section 4(b), if voters approve 
separate sovereignty or statehood, within 180 days the 
President must propose a Transition Plan of no more than ten 
years to implement that status preference. After Congress 
approves the Transition Plan under ``expedited procedures'' 
under Section 6 of H.R. 856, it is presented to the people of 
Puerto Rico for approval. Upon its approval the Transition Plan 
will be implemented in accordance with its terms.
    Implementation Stage. Section 4(c) is the stage which 
begins not less than two years prior to end of Transition Plan, 
with the President submitting to Congress a Joint Resolution 
with recommendations for the date of termination of the 
transition and the date of implementation of full self-
government. Upon approval by Congress through expedited 
procedures of the Joint Resolution, Congress approves an 
Implementation Act which is submitted for approval by the 
Puerto Rican people in a vote. If the Implementation Act is 
approved, then full self-government is implemented in 
accordance with the Joint Resolution approved by Congress.
    Voters are free to choose to continue the current 
commonwealth status based on a preference for that status over 
the available options for full self-government. For the first 
time in almost 100 years under the sovereignty of Congress, the 
people of Puerto Rico will be empowered to choose between local 
self-government within the Territorial Clause and the two 
options for a permanent status based on an exercise of 
sovereignty by the people through which such a permanent and 
fully self-governing status is achieved.
    A copy of the ballot prescribed by Section 4 in English and 
Spanish is included as Appendix F. In the manner provided in 
Section 4, Congress will, for the first time, be creating an 
orderly and informed process for self-determination in Puerto 
Rico. Instead of allowing local political parties to impose 
choices between mismatched options which do not withstand 
Constitutional scrutiny, and which lead to contradictory legal 
and political results, Congress will bring clarity and validly 
defined choice into the process consistent with applicable U.S. 
Constitutional law and international practice recognized by the 
United States.
    Once there is a majority vote for a new status, Congress 
will proceed in a deliberate manner. By going back to the 
voters not once, not twice, but three times, Congress will 
empower the people to redeem the right to self-determination 
within a framework established by Congress consistent with our 
values as a Nation and the Constitution.
    If at the initial stage under Section 4(a) the voters do 
not approve measures proposed by Congress to achieve full self-
government in accordance with the preference expressed by the 
voters, then the self-determination process prescribed in 
Section 4(a) of the bill begins anew pursuant to Section 5 as 
discussed below.
    For the people of Puerto Rico to be empowered to engage in 
a free and informed act of self-determination, the definitions 
of ``commonwealth,'' ``separate sovereignty'' and ``statehood'' 
must be ones formulated not for the purpose of either 
confirming or repudiating the positions of the local political 
parties regarding the legal and political nature of the current 
status of Puerto Rico or the alternative status options. 
Rather, language should be adopted which is accurate, 
authoritative and balanced as a matter of law. While the status 
definitions were formulated to reflect the aspirations of the 
three local political parties as far as Constitutional, legal, 
fiscal, political, and budgetary constraints permit, the 
desirability of the formula to be adopted in the view of the 
political parties were not controlling. Congress is responsible 
for formulating a definition that it accepts as fair, and which 
has a clear meaning that Congress can respond to if it is 
approved by the voters. The language in the findings of Section 
2, the policy of Section 3, and initial decision ballot 
definitions and transition provisions of Section 4 clarify the 
status choices for the benefit of both the people of Puerto 
Rico and Congress.

Section 5. Requirements relating to referenda, including inconclusive 
        referendum and applicable laws

    This Section provides the legal framework for conducting 
referenda under this bill. Current election laws of Puerto Rico 
requiring U.S. citizenship and satisfaction of residency 
requirements will apply. For example, under those election 
laws, non-residents who are serving on active duty in the 
military are allowed to cast absentee ballots.
    The provisions of Section 5 relating to the authority and 
procedures for conducting referenda include the requirement for 
a referendum no less than once every ten years if neither 
statehood nor independence receive a majority of the vote in 
the initial decision stage under Section 4(a), thus rendering 
the referendum inconclusive.
    If a vote is inconclusive at the transition stage under 
Section 4(b) or the implementation stage under Section 4(c), 
then Congress must act under Section 5(c)(1) to implement the 
referendum results in accordance with Findings 12 and 15 in 
Section 2.
    If the inhabitants of the territory do not achieve full 
self-government through either integration into the United 
States or separate sovereignty in the form of absolute 
independence or free associated republic status, Puerto Rico 
will remain an unincorporated territory of the United States, 
subject to the authority of Congress under the Territorial 
Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In that event, the existing 
``Commonwealth of Puerto Rico'' structure of local self-
government over internal affairs and administration under a 
constitution approved by the people will continue to remain in 
effect, subject to such alterations, modifications, changes or 
other disposition of the status of the territory and its 
population as Congress may deem in the exercise of its 
Territorial Clause powers to be in the national interest.
    Congress historically has recognized a commitment to take 
into consideration the free expressed wishes of the people of 
Puerto Rico regarding the future political status of the 
territory. This policy is consistent with respect for the right 
of self-determination in areas which are not fully self-
governing, but does not constitute a legal restriction or 
binding limitation on the Territorial Clause powers of Congress 
to determine the permanent relationship between the United 
States and Puerto Rico through measures adopted and implemented 
through the U.S. Constitutional process. Nor does any such 
restriction or limitation arise from the PRFRA (Public Law 81-
600).

Section 6. Congressional procedures for consideration of legislation

    This Section prescribes the ``expedited procedures'' for 
Congressional action in response to the results of referenda 
conducted under its provisions.

Section 7. Availability of funds for the referenda

    This Section provides that funding to conduct the referenda 
required under the bill will be from existing Federal excise 
taxes on foreign rum, which is covered over to the Puerto Rico 
Treasury. The President may identify all or part of the excise 
tax as grants to the State Elections Commission of Puerto Rico 
for conducting the referenda and for voter education.

            COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    With respect to the requirements of clause 2(l)(3) of rule 
XI of the Rules of the House ofRepresentatives, and clause 
2(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Resources' oversight findings and recommendations are 
reflected in the body of this report.

                   CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT

    Article IV, section 3 of the Constitution of the United 
States grants Congress the authority to enact H.R. 856.

                        COST OF THE LEGISLATION

    Clause 7(a) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires an estimate and a comparison by the 
Committee of the costs which would be incurred in carrying out 
H.R. 856. However, clause 7(d) of that rule provides that this 
requirement does not apply when the Committee has included in 
its report a timely submitted cost estimate of the bill 
prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office 
under Section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.

                     COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XI

    1. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(B) of 
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
Section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, H.R. 
856 does not contain any new budget authority, spending 
authority, credit authority, or an increase or decrease in 
revenues or tax expenditures.
    2. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(D) of 
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee has received no report of oversight findings and 
recommendations from the Committee on Government Reform and 
Oversight on the subject of H.R. 856.
    3. With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(C) of 
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
Section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the 
Committee has received the following cost estimate for H.R. 856 
from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office.

               CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                      Washington, DC, June 3, 1997.
Hon. Don Young,
Chairman, Committee on Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 856, the United 
States-Puerto Rico Political Status Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are John R. 
Righter (for federal costs) and Marjorie Miller (for the state 
and local impact).
            Sincerely,
                                         June E. O'Neill, Director.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 856--United States-Puerto Rico Political Status Act

    Summary: CBO estimates that H.R. 856 would result in no 
significant cost to the federal government. Enacting H.R. 856 
would not affect direct spending or receipts; therefore, pay-
as-you-go procedures would not apply. H.R. 856 contains no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA). Should the bill be 
enacted, the government of Puerto Rico probably would incur 
some costs, but these costs would be voluntary and, therefore, 
not the result of a mandate.
    Description of the bill's major provisions: H.R. 856 would 
authorize a process for determining and implementing a 
permanent political status for Puerto Rico. The process would 
include three stages:
    (1) The government of Puerto Rico would have the authority 
to hold a referendum by December 31, 1998, whereby voters would 
choose between continuing Puerto Rico's status as a territory 
of the United States or becoming fully self-governing through 
either separate sovereignty or statehood. If the initial 
referendum does not result in a majority vote for either 
separate sovereignty or statehood, the bill would authorize 
that additional referenda occur not less than once every 10 
years.
    (2) If a majority of voters select one of the two forms of 
self-government, the President would have six months to submit 
legislation to the Congress that provides for a transition 
period of up to 10 years. In a second referendum, voters would 
then approve or disapprove the enacted transition plan.
    (3) At least two years prior to the end of the transition 
period, the President would submit a joint resolution to the 
Congress recommending a date for ending Puerto Rico's 
transition to full self-governance. A third referendum would 
then be held to approve or disapprove the enacted terms of 
implementation.
    The bill would help fund the referenda by earmarking 
existing federal excise taxes on foreign rum. Under current 
law, the federal government collects and then transfers these 
taxes to the government of Puerto Rico. Under H.R. 856, the 
President could elect to make some or all of the funds 
available to the State Elections Commission of Puerto Rico.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: CBO estimates 
that H.R. 856 would result in no significant cost to the 
federal government. Some minor costs could be incurred to 
formulate and approve the subsequent legislation required by 
the bill if the voters of Puerto Rico select one of the two 
forms of self-government. Other than such minor costs, H.R. 856 
would only reallocate, upon request, a portion of funds derived 
from federal excise taxes already paid to the government of 
Puerto Rico. The total amount of those funds would not change.
    A change in the political status of Puerto Rico could have 
a significant budgetary impact on the federal government. The 
potential impact could include changes in spending on federal 
assistance programs, such as Supplemental Security Income and 
Medicaid, plus changes in receipts from federal income taxes, 
which residents of Puerto Rico currently do not pay. Any such 
changes, however, would be contingent on the outcome of the 
referenda and future actions of the Congress and the President. 
Therefore, enacting H.R. 856 would have no direct budgetary 
impact (other than the minor discretionary costs cited above).
    Pay-as-you-go considerations: None.
    Estimated impact on State, local, and tribal governments: 
H.R. 856 contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined in 
UMRA. If the bill were enacted, the government of Puerto Rico 
would probably incur some costs, but these costs would be 
voluntary and not the result of a mandate.
    This bill would authorize the Puerto Rican government to 
hold a referendum no later than December 31, 1998. If a 
majority of voters choose some form of self-government, the 
bill would provide for a second referendum in fiscal year 2000 
and, possibly, another in aboutfiscal year 2010. If a majority 
choose to continue the current commonwealth status of Puerto Rico, the 
bill would provide for a second referendum within 10 years.
    CBO estimates that the government of Puerto Rico would 
incur costs of $5 million to $10 million for each referendum 
held. Given the timetable established by the bill, we expect 
that one referendum would be held in fiscal year 1999. The 
timing of additional referenda would depend on the outcome of 
the first. This estimate is based on the cost of recent 
elections in Puerto Rico and includes the cost of voter 
education as well as the cost of holding elections.
    If the process established by this bill resulted in a 
change in the political status of Puerto Rico, there would be a 
significant fiscal impact on the government of that island. Any 
such change would be the result of future legislation.
    Estimated impact on the private sector: The bill would 
impose no new private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: John R. Righter. 
Impact on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Marjorie 
Miller.
    Estimate approved by: Paul N. Van de Water, Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    H.R. 856 contains no unfunded mandates.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, H.R. 856 would make no changes in existing law.
                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

    H.R. 856, the United States-Puerto Rico Political Status 
Act establishes a process that could result in a permanent 
change in the political relationship between the United States 
and Puerto Rico. This bill would authorize a plebescite in 
Puerto Rico to determine the future political status 
aspirations of the 3.8 million American citizens of that 
island. Also, this bill mandates Congress and the 
Administration to consider legislation within a reasonable time 
frame to enact the status which receives a majority vote in 
that plebiscite.
    Enactment of H.R. 856 would represent the first time that 
the United States Congress has committed itself to considering 
a statehood admissions act or legislation to assist Puerto Rico 
in becoming a separate and sovereign nation, should its voters 
so decide. This is a most serious and solemn matter, and it is 
the responsibility of the Congress to make every effort to 
ensure the integrity of the process at each step.
    The bill addresses a host of contentious and complex 
issues. Several positive changes were made at the mark up 
meeting held by the Committee on Resources on May 21, 1997. The 
core issue, however, remains the fairness and accuracy of the 
status options that will be presented to the voters in the 
plebescite. If there is a perception that the choices presented 
to the Puerto Rican voters were unfairly or inaccurately 
crafted so as to achieve a desired result, the entire process 
will be tainted.
    Puerto Rico holds elections every four years in which over 
80% of registered voters participate. This enviable voter 
turnout makes clear how dedicated to democracy the people of 
Puerto Rico are. Each of the three major political parties in 
Puerto Rico are tied to a preferred status option. The New 
Progressive Party (NPP) supports statehood, the Popular 
Democratic Party (PDP) supports commonwealth, and the Popular 
Independence Party (PIP) supports independence.
    There has long been strong division among the voters of 
Puerto Rico with respect to its status with the United States. 
Three votes have taken place under local authority on the issue 
of status. The Commonwealth status has prevailed in each case, 
although the vote for Statehood has substantially narrowed the 
gap over the years. In 1952, 76.5% supported commonwealth while 
23.5% supported statehood. The Popular Independence Party 
boycotted this plebescite. A vote taken in 1967 found 60.41% 
supported commonwealth, 38.99% supported statehood, and 0.6% 
supported independence. In 1993 the plebescite results were 
48.4% for commonwealth, 46.2% for statehood, and 4.4% for 
independence. Just last month, one day after the bill was 
reported by the Resources Committee, El Nuevo Dia, Puerto 
Rico's largest circulation newspaper, released the results of a 
poll on status that reported 43% for commonwealth; 39% for 
statehood; and 4% for independence.
    As introduced, H.R. 856 contained definitions of each 
status written by those who favor the statehood option to make 
Puerto Rico the 51st state. Shortly after introduction, a 
letter was sent by Resources Committee Chairman Don Young and 
Senior Democratic Member George Miller to the presidents of the 
three political parties asking them to submit to the Conference 
alternative definitions they believed would be appropriate for 
their status choice. The letter affirmed Congress' 
responsibility and authority for the definitions that 
ultimately will be included in the legislation.
    All three parties responded to the Young/Miller letter 
regarding the status definitions. The New Progressive Party 
endorsed the definition of statehood as it already appeared in 
the bill. The Popular Independence Party and the Popular 
Democratic Party submitted versions different from the original 
bill. The definition submitted by the PIP was largely accepted. 
Both the NPP and PIP now support the language in the bill as 
reported from Committee.
    The provisions submitted by the Commonwealth party were not 
incorporated into the legislation. The PDP is the only 
political party not accommodated in the bill, and the only 
party whose definition was written by those who oppose that 
option. One need not be an advocate of Commonwealth to 
recognize the concern of PDP leaders who, unless improvements 
are made in the definition, would be compelled to urge their 
voters to endorse a definition of Commonwealth that does not 
reflect the Party's current perspective.
    Many problems exist in Puerto Rico under today's 
Commonwealth relationship. Almost 4 million American citizens 
live on the island without access to all benefits received by 
those in the several states. Puerto Rico does not have a vote 
on the floor of the House of Representatives and has no 
representation at all in the U.S. Senate, but must abide by all 
laws passed by the Congress unless specifically exempted.
    The definition proposed by the PDP made significant changes 
in the current status arrangement between Puerto Rico and the 
federal government. These changes, which would produce a 
Commonwealth that is more autonomous than at present, 
recognizes that the new arrangement would have to be sanctioned 
by a future Congress. At the mark up of H.R. 856, 
Representative George Miller proposed to add the definition 
submitted by the PDP to the bill to comport with the desires of 
the PDP leadership. That amendment failed, and the definition 
that remains does not reflect the version of Commonwealth 
supported by Commonwealth proponents.
    While the Committee rejected the definition of Commonwealth 
as submitted verbatim, changes still need to be made in the 
definition remaining in H.R. 856 to assure that the option 
which has prevailed in past plebescites is fairly stated and 
reflects an accurate view of commonwealth that is acceptable to 
the Congress. There is no reason to ask the voters of Puerto 
Rico to vote on a status option that, should it be approved, 
would be rejected by the Congress. By the same token, there is 
little reason to ask voters to approve a definition that does 
not reflect to a reasonable degree the concept of Commonwealth 
envisioned by the Party.
    Those who refuse to improve the Commonwealth definition in 
H.R. 856 to bring it closer to the definition written by the 
PDP risk toppling the entire process by forcing Commonwealth to 
be defined in unfavorable terms. It will be difficult enough to 
move a statehood admissions bill through Congress without 
having it carry the extra burden a questionable plebescite 
process would surely bring. Those who deny a Commonwealther a 
fair chance to vote on his or her option are undermining their 
own cause and the best interests of the voters of Puerto Rico.
    We are hopeful that, though continuing negotiations, a 
Commonwealth definition can be crafted that reflects some of 
the modifications in the current status sought by the PDP while 
still being acceptable to the Congress. We believe that this is 
not only an achievable goal, but a crucial one if the 
legislation is to pass the Congress and maintain credibility in 
the Puerto Rican electorate. Only if both of those criteria are 
met will the outcome of the plebiscite be accepted.
    We additionally note several improvements that were made 
during bipartisan negotiations prior to the Committee's mark-up 
that improve the bill and increase the likelihood that the 
status selected by the voters of Puerto Rico are accepted by 
the Congress. In particular, we are gratified that the period 
of time for transitioning to the new status approved by a 
majority of voters now will be no longer than ten years, a 
substantial improvement over the indefinite period of ``at 
least ten years'' contained in the original bill. The Congress, 
the voters of Puerto Rico, and all other U.S. citizens must 
recognize that we are not sanctioning a straw poll, but setting 
in motion a process that is intended to result in profound 
change for the relationship with Puerto Rico. Reasonable time 
frames for implementing such changes send a powerful signal 
that the Congress is serious about taking this action.

                                   George Miller.
                                   William Delahunt.
                                   Frank Pallone, Jr.
                                   Bruce F. Vento.
                                   Edward J. Markey.
                                   Eni Faleomavaega.
                                   Sam Farr.
                                   Maurice Hinchey.
                                   Donna Christian-Green.
                                   Peter DeFazio.
                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

    As Puerto Rico's sole representative in the United States 
Congress, I want to reiterate my emphatic support of H.R. 856, 
the United States Puerto Rico Political Status Act, and expand 
upon my remarks during the Resources Committee hearings and 
markup of this legislation which will provide a process leading 
to full self-government for Puerto Rico.
    H.R. 856 is a truly historic piece of legislation that will 
allow the 3.8 million United States citizens residing in Puerto 
Rico to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination 
and to resolve, once and for all, their 100 year old colonial 
dilemma.
    Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States in 1898 
pursuant to the Treaty of Paris, following the Spanish-American 
War. The first fifty years of American rule were marked by 
strong and direct involvement of the United States government 
in the administration of local Puerto Rican affairs. During 
this period, Puerto Rico was initially ruled by a military 
government. The military government was replaced in 1900 by a 
federally-appointed civil government.
    In 1917, Puerto Ricans became United States citizens under 
the terms of the Jones Act passed by Congress. Since then we 
have cherished and valued that citizenship with our hearts and 
our minds and have defended it with our blood. Nearly 200,000 
Puerto Ricans have served the United States in this century's 
armed conflicts. Thousands of them paid the ultimate price.
    It was not until 1948, however, that Puerto Ricans were 
allowed by the United States Congress to elect their own 
governor. Then, in 1950, the United States Congress passed the 
Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act which authorized Puerto Rico 
to establish a local self-government structure in the image of 
state governments. The intent was to create a provisional form 
of local self-rule until the status issue could be resolved. 
Puerto Rico would remain an unincorporated territory of the 
United States, subject to the authority and plenary powers of 
Congress under the territorial clause of the Constitution which 
states that ``Congress shall have the Power to dispose of and 
make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the territory 
or other Property belonging to the United States'' (Article IV, 
Section 3).
    The fact is that ours is a colonial relationship that 
clearly contradicts the basic tenets and principles of 
democracy. One in which Puerto Rico's economic, social and 
political affairs are, to a large degree, controlled and 
influenced by a government over which we exercise no control 
and in which we do not participate.
    Congress has not only the power, but also the moral 
obligation to put an end to the disenfranchisement of the 3.8 
million United States citizens that reside in Puerto Rico. H.R. 
856, with its broad bipartisan support of nearly 90 
cosponsors--including Speaker Newt Gingrich and Minority Leader 
Richard Gephardt--clearly evidences that this is not a 
Republican issue nor a Democratic issue. The issue here is 
whether the United States, as a nation, and as the example and 
inspiration of democracy throughout the world, can continue to 
deny equality and maintain 3.8 million of its own citizens 
disenfranchised.
    After 100 years, our nation has finally begun to recognize 
that its colonial relationship with Puerto Rico is 
unsustainable and is clearly not in the best interests of 
neither Puerto Rico nor the United States. On June 6, 1997, the 
Washington Post published an editorial entitled An Obligation 
of Equality that evidences the growing concern nationwide 
regarding the disenfranchisement of the United States citizens 
of Puerto Rico. I would like to conclude my remarks by having 
this editorial be made part of the Resources Committee Report 
on H.R. 856, as it reflects why I adamantly support enactment 
of the United States Puerto Rico Political Status Act.

                       An Obligation of Equality

    Americans don't have long to get accustomed to the 
possibility that they may soon be considering admitting Puerto 
Rico as the 51st state. This outcome arises from the fact that, 
largely unattended, Congress is heading toward organizing a 
referendum next year giving the territory's nearly 4 million 
residents a ``once and for all'' choice of its relationship to 
the United States. The key moment came a few weeks ago, when 
the House Resources Committee approved 44 to 1 a bill from 
Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) allowing Puerto Ricans to decide 
the future of their island. This old question is being brought 
to a new boil by the approach of the centennial of the Spanish-
American War, in which the United States acquired bits of 
global empire. To many people, 100 years of American 
sovereignty over a territory denied full rights is enough.
    The proposed referendum offers voters a choice among 
statehood, independence and the existing ``commonwealth.'' 
Commonwealth, however, enters the contest under a double 
burden. It has been tried over the decades and found wanting by 
many, and it is now widely seen as anachronistically 
``colonial,'' even though it was a status voluntarily chosen 
and repeatedly affirmed. Chairman Young said in May, when his 
bill was passed in committee: ``It is time for Congress to 
permit democracy to fully develop in Puerto Rico, either as a 
separate sovereign republic or as a state if a majority of the 
people are no longer content to continue the existing 
commonwealth structure for local self-government.'' Its 
supporters tried hard in committee to sweeten the definition of 
commonwealth that would be put to referendum. They failed. For 
now, anyway, the island's statehood party is on a roll.
    For Puerto Ricans, the status question bears deeply on 
identity as well as practical benefit. Closely related is the 
issue of language; the committee declared that English--a 
minority language in Puerto Rico--shall apply ``to the same 
extent as Federal law requires throughout the United States.'' 
Tough issues of taxes and benefits must also be calculated.
    For Americans. * * * But wait a minute. Puerto Ricans are 
already Americans. The issue for all of us is that they are 
citizens without full political rights, including a vote in 
Congress. This is the anomaly the proposed referendum is meant 
to remedy. Whatever the Puerto Rican choice, we continental 
Americans have an obligation of equality to our fellow citizens 
on the island.

                                             Carlos Romero-Barcelo.


                               Appendices

A. Memorandum of United States to the General Assembly of the United 
        Nations Regarding Status of Puerto Rico, 1953
B. Resolution 2, Legislature of Puerto Rico, January 23, 1997
C. Statement of Chairman Don Young, Congressional Record, September 28, 
        1996
D. Letter of March 3, 1997, inviting submission of status definitions 
        by local political parties in Puerto Rico
E. Status definitions submitted by local political parties in Puerto 
        Rico
F. Ballot for Referendum under H.R. 856