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111th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    111-294

======================================================================



 
                   PUERTO RICO DEMOCRACY ACT OF 2009

                                _______
                                

October 8, 2009.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Rahall, from the Committee on Natural Resources, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 2499]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 2499) to provide for a federally sanctioned self-
determination process for the people of 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 all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009''.

SEC. 2. FEDERALLY SANCTIONED PROCESS FOR PUERTO RICO'S SELF-
                    DETERMINATION.

  (a) First Plebiscite.--The Government of Puerto Rico is authorized to 
conduct a plebiscite in Puerto Rico. The 2 options set forth on the 
ballot shall be preceded by the following statement: ``Instructions: 
Mark one of the following 2 options:
          ``(1) Puerto Rico should continue to have its present form of 
        political status. If you agree, mark here __.
          ``(2) Puerto Rico should have a different political status. 
        If you agree, mark here __.''.
  (b) Procedure if Majority in First Plebiscite Favors Option 1.--If a 
majority of the ballots in the plebiscite are cast in favor of Option 
1, the Government of Puerto Rico is authorized to conduct additional 
plebiscites under subsection (a) at intervals of every 8 years from the 
date that the results of the prior plebiscite are certified under 
section 3(d).
  (c) Procedure if Majority in First Plebiscite Favors Option 2.--If a 
majority of the ballots in a plebiscite conducted pursuant to 
subsection (a) or (b) are cast in favor of Option 2, the Government of 
Puerto Rico is authorized to conduct a plebiscite on the following 3 
options:
          (1) Independence: Puerto Rico should become fully independent 
        from the United States. If you agree, mark here __.
          (2) Sovereignty in Association with the United States: Puerto 
        Rico and the United States should form a political association 
        between sovereign nations that will not be subject to the 
        Territorial Clause of the United States Constitution. If you 
        agree, mark here __.
          (3) Statehood: Puerto Rico should be admitted as a State of 
        the Union. If you agree, mark here __.

SEC. 3. APPLICABLE LAWS AND OTHER REQUIREMENTS.

  (a) Applicable Laws.--All Federal laws applicable to the election of 
the Resident Commissioner shall, as appropriate and consistent with 
this Act, also apply to any plebiscites held pursuant to this Act. Any 
reference in such Federal laws to elections shall be considered, as 
appropriate, to be a reference to the plebiscites, unless it would 
frustrate the purposes of this Act.
  (b) Rules and Regulations.--The Puerto Rico State Elections 
Commission shall issue all rules and regulations necessary to carry out 
the plebiscites under this Act.
  (c) Eligibility To Vote.--Each of the following shall be eligible to 
vote in any plebiscite held under this Act:
          (1) All eligible voters under the electoral laws in effect in 
        Puerto Rico at the time the plebiscite is held.
          (2) All United States citizens born in Puerto Rico who 
        comply, to the satisfaction of the Puerto Rico State Elections 
        Commission, with all Commission requirements (other than the 
        residency requirement) applicable to eligibility to vote in a 
        general election in Puerto Rico. Persons eligible to vote under 
        this subsection shall, upon timely request submitted to the 
        Commission in compliance with any terms imposed by the 
        Electoral Law of Puerto Rico, be entitled to receive an 
        absentee ballot for the plebiscite.
  (d) Certification of Plebiscite Results.--The Puerto Rico State 
Elections Commission shall certify the results of any plebiscite held 
under this Act to the President of the United States and to the Members 
of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States.
  (e) English Ballots.--The Puerto Rico State Elections Commission 
shall ensure that all ballots used for any plebiscite held under this 
Act include the full content of the ballot printed in English.
  (f) Plebiscite Costs.--All costs associated with any plebiscite held 
under this Act (including the printing, distribution, transportation, 
collection, and counting of all ballots) shall be paid for by the 
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 2499 is to provide for a federally 
sanctioned self-determination process for the people of Puerto 
Rico.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory since 1898, when it 
was ceded to the United States by Spain under the treaty that 
ended the Spanish-American War. The U.S. Supreme Court has held 
that Puerto Rico has not been incorporated into the United 
States (Downes v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 244). This means, among 
other things, that Puerto Rico's ultimate political status has 
not been resolved. Incorporated territories are those destined 
for statehood, whereas unincorporated territories can become 
sovereign nations or States. Persons born in Puerto Rico have 
been granted U.S. citizenship by federal statute since 1917.
    Through its Territorial Clause (Article 4, Section 3, 
Clause 2), the Constitution gives Congress full power to govern 
territories. The only limit on this power is that residents of 
the territories possess certain fundamental rights that cannot 
be abridged. The power of Congress includes the authority to 
govern territories in local as well as national matters. 
Congress, however, has granted Puerto Rico authority over local 
matters similar to the authority possessed by the states. In 
1950, Congress enacted a law authorizing Puerto Rico to draft a 
local constitution, which was ratified by the people of Puerto 
Rico and approved by Congress in 1952. In the exercise of its 
powers, Congress may choose to treat Puerto Rico differently 
than the States, the District of Columbia, and other 
territories. While Puerto Rico is treated as a state for many 
purposes, there are significant exceptions with respect to 
certain programs (e.g., Medicaid, Medicare, Supplemental 
Security Income) and tax law.
    The Constitution does not directly provide for residents of 
territories to be represented in Congress or to participate in 
the election of the president of the United States. Pursuant to 
statute and the Rules of the House, the nearly four million 
residents of Puerto Rico elect a single Resident Commissioner, 
who has been given membership in the U.S. House of 
Representatives and limited voting rights in committees. 
Because residents of Puerto Rico do not have anything 
approaching equal voting representation in the government that 
enacts and enforces their national laws, they do not enjoy full 
democracy at the national government level.
    Puerto Rico has been under the U.S. flag for 111 years and 
its residents have been U.S. citizens for more than 90 years. 
Yet, in that time, the people of Puerto Rico have not expressed 
their views--in a vote authorized by the Government of the 
United States--on the question of whether they want the current 
status to continue or, in the alternative, whether they would 
prefer that Puerto Rico become a State or a sovereign nation, 
either fully independent from or in an association with the 
United States.
    The debate over Puerto Rico's political status has been--
and remains today--the central issue in the territory's 
political life. In the period immediately following Puerto 
Rico's acquisition by the United States in 1898, Puerto Rico's 
leaders generally expected equality and eventual statehood. 
However, a competing nationalist sentiment emerged among a 
segment of Puerto Rico's residents. It was spurred in 
considerable part by Supreme Court rulings that Puerto Rico had 
not been incorporated into the United States--meaning that it 
would not necessarily become a state--and by laws enacted in 
the first two decades of the twentieth century that, in certain 
respects, granted Puerto Rico less self-government and 
representation in the national government than it had been 
afforded under Spanish rule.
    Subsequently, certain leaders in Puerto Rico developed 
ideas for a new political status and relationship between the 
United States and Puerto Rico. The proposal was a hybrid, 
containing elements of territory status, statehood, and 
national sovereignty, and was rooted in the recognition that 
many residents of Puerto Rico valued their U.S. citizenship and 
that key U.S. officials opposed independence.
    Such hybrid status proposals have undergone various 
iterations--and been given various names--over the years. Under 
the most recent version--put forth in 1998 and called 
``Development of the Commonwealth''--Puerto Rico would be 
recognized as a nation but in an association with the United 
States. The U.S. could not withdraw from this association or 
modify its terms without the consent of Puerto Rico. Certain 
federal laws would apply in Puerto Rico, but Puerto Rico would 
have the power to nullify the application of other federal laws 
and to limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Puerto 
Rico would also have the power to join international 
organizations and enter into international agreements. 
Residents of Puerto Rico would be granted U.S. citizenship in 
perpetuity and continue to receive all current federal 
assistance. The federal government would be required to grant 
Puerto Rico a subsidy--in the form of an annual block grant--
and to enact incentives to encourage investment in Puerto Rico. 
Proposals for such a governing arrangement have been 
consistently opposed by federal authorities in the executive 
and legislative branches, including this Committee, on both 
constitutional and policy grounds. Nevertheless, this hybrid 
proposal continues to be promoted in Puerto Rico as a feasible 
status option. Such proposals have resulted in misinformed and 
inconclusive referenda in Puerto Rico in July 1967, November 
1993, and December 1998.
    Lack of clear understanding in Puerto Rico regarding its 
viable, non-territorial status options is a chief reason for 
this legislation. A federal law would clarify the viable status 
options and thereby ensure that the self-determination process 
is well-informed and productive. In addition to the current 
territory status, there are three real status options that have 
support in Puerto Rico: (1) independence, (2) national 
sovereignty in association with the United States, whereby 
Puerto Rico and the U.S. would form a political association the 
terms of which would be negotiated between the parties and 
which would be terminable by either party, and (3) statehood.

Origins of the Bill

    The status referendum held in Puerto Rico in 1998 included 
a ``None of the above'' choice, in addition to the current 
status, independence, nationhood in association with the United 
States, and statehood. Advocates of the ``Development of the 
Commonwealth'' proposal campaigned for a ``None of the above'' 
vote. ``None of the above'' obtained just over 50% of the vote, 
statehood obtained 46.5%, independence obtained 2.5%, 
nationhood in association with the United States obtained .02%, 
and the current status obtained .01%.
    Because neither ``None of the above'' nor the ``Development 
of the Commonwealth'' proposal could become Puerto Rico's 
status, President William J. Clinton called for Puerto Rico's 
viable status options to be clarified and for a referendum to 
take place on those options. The then-Chairman and Ranking 
Member of this Committee, Don Young (R-AK) and George Miller 
(D-CA), issued a similar call. To facilitate this process, 
President Clinton established the President's Task Force on 
Puerto Rico's Status.
    In 2005, after extensive consultations with Puerto Rico's 
political parties, the Task Force issued a report recommending 
that Congress provide for a referendum in which the people of 
Puerto Rico would express their preference between continuing 
the current territory status and seeking a non-territory 
status. If the referendum resulted in a majority favoring the 
current status, the Task Force recommended that further 
referenda on the question be held periodically. If the 
referendum resulted in a majority expressing the desire to seek 
a non-territory status, the Task Force recommended that 
Congress provide for a referendum between statehood and 
nationhood. A bill (H.R. 4867) to implement the process 
recommended by the Task Force was introduced in the 109th 
Congress by then-Resident Commissioner--and now Governor--Luis 
G. Fortuno (R-PR) and was co-sponsored by 110 Members. A 
similar bill (H.R. 900) was introduced in the 110th Congress by 
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) and cosponsored by 128 Members, 
including Resident Commissioner Fortuno. An amended version of 
the bill was favorably reported by this Committee.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 2499 was introduced on May 19, 2009, by Resident 
Commissioner Pedro R. Pierluisi (D-PR). It was referred to the 
Committee on Natural Resources. On June 24, 2009, the Committee 
held a hearing on the bill. Witnesses included the governor of 
Puerto Rico, who also serves as the president of one of the 
territory's three major political parties; the presidents of 
Puerto Rico's other two major political parties; the presiding 
officers of the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico; the 
minority leader of the Puerto Rico Senate and a designee of the 
minority leader of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives; a 
former governor and resident commissioner; and Representatives 
Dan Burton (R-IN) and Alan Grayson (D-FL).
    On July 22, 2009, the Committee met to consider the bill. 
Representative Henry E. Brown (R-SC) offered an amendment that 
would require the Puerto Rico State Elections Commission to 
ensure that all ballots used for any plebiscite held under the 
Act include the full content of the ballot printed in English. 
The amendment was agreed to by a rollcall vote of 35-0, as 
follows:


    Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) offered an amendment 
that would require that all costs associated with any 
plebiscite held under this Act be paid for by the Government of 
Puerto Rico. The amendment was agreed to by voice vote.
    Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) offered an additional 
amendment that would require that two-thirds of voters, rather 
than a majority, vote in favor of a different political status 
in the first-stage plebiscite authorized by the bill in order 
to proceed to the second-stage plebiscite. The amendment would 
also add a ``Sense of Congress'' that any status option 
receiving less than two-thirds support in the second-stage 
plebiscite should not be the basis of any further legislative 
action by Congress. The amendment was not agreed to by voice 
vote.
    Representative Paul C. Broun (R-GA) offered an amendment 
that would require that, if Puerto Rico were to become a State, 
its official language would be English and all its official 
business would be conducted in English. The amendment was not 
agreed to by a rollcall vote of 13-24, as follows:


    The bill was then favorably reported, as amended, to the 
House of Representatives by a rollcall vote of 30-8, as 
follows:


                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

Section 1. Short title

    Section 1 provides that this Act may be cited as the 
``Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009.''

Section 2. Federally sanctioned process for Puerto Rico's self-
        determination

    Section 2(a) would authorize the Government of Puerto Rico 
to conduct a plebiscite in which individuals eligible to vote 
under the Act would express their preference as to whether they 
want Puerto Rico to (1) continue to have its present form of 
political status or (2) have a different political status. 
Consistent with the principle of self-determination, the bill 
would authorize--as opposed to require--the Government of 
Puerto Rico to conduct this plebiscite.
    The Committee believes that it is both logical and sensible 
to ask eligible voters the threshold question of whether they 
want to maintain the current status or to pursue a different 
status before voters are asked to state their preference as to 
which of Puerto Rico's alternative options they prefer. The 
argument has been made that this plebiscite would place the 
current status at a disadvantage because supporters of the 
three alternatives to the current status would collectively 
outnumber supporters of the current status. The factual 
assumption that underlies this argument is speculative and open 
to question, not least because some proponents of alternatives 
to the current status might nonetheless vote for the current 
status, based on their belief that a vote for an undetermined 
different status might ultimately lead to an alternative status 
they do not want. More fundamentally, the Committee strongly 
believes that if more than 50 percent of eligible voters do not 
support the present status, Congress and the President should 
be aware of this fact, and voters should then be able to 
express their preference among the non-territory alternatives 
to the present status in a congressionally-authorized vote.
    Section 2(b) provides that, if a majority of ballots are 
cast in favor of continuing the present status, the Government 
of Puerto Rico is authorized to periodically conduct additional 
plebiscites on this question. A plebiscite held pursuant to 
this subsection cannot be held earlier than eight years after 
the certification of the results of a prior plebiscite on the 
question. This subsection will provide for the people of Puerto 
Rico to be consulted at reasonable intervals to obtain their 
continued consent to an arrangement that does not provide for 
self-government at the national government level. The Committee 
believes that an eight-year period between plebiscites strikes 
a reasonable balance. On the one hand, it will provide 
continuing congressional authorization for a meaningful process 
of self-determination in Puerto Rico. On the other hand, it 
will allow for a substantial interlude between plebiscites, so 
as to reduce the likelihood that the status debate will unduly 
complicate efforts to address other important social, economic 
and political issues in Puerto Rico.
    Section 2(c) would authorize the Government of Puerto Rico, 
in the event that a majority of voters in a plebiscite 
conducted pursuant to Section 2(a) or 2(b) cast their ballots 
in favor of a different political status, to conduct a second 
plebiscite between the options of (1) independence, (2) 
national sovereignty in association with the United States, and 
(3) U.S. statehood. These constitute all of the alternatives to 
the current status that have any support in the territory, and 
exclude only the options of Puerto Rico becoming a sovereign 
nation in association with a nation other than the United 
States or becoming part of another nation. The three options in 
the plebiscite also correspond to the options that the United 
Nations has identified as the options for decolonizing a 
territory.
    Descriptions of independence and U.S. statehood would not 
be provided on the ballot authorized by this subsection because 
the meaning of independence is defined in international law and 
practice and the meaning of U.S. statehood is defined by the 
U.S. Constitution. National sovereignty in association with the 
United States is also defined in international law, but this 
subsection notes that an associated nation of Puerto Rico would 
not be subject to congressional authority under the Territorial 
Clause.

Section 3. Applicable laws and other requirements

    Section 3(a) would make all federal laws that are 
applicable to the election of the Resident Commissioner of 
Puerto Rico applicable to the plebiscites authorized by the 
Act.
    Section 3(b) would authorize the Puerto Rico State 
Elections Commission to make all policy necessary to carry out 
the plebiscites.
    Section 3(c) would prescribe the eligibility requirements 
for voting in the plebiscites authorized by this Act. This 
subsection would make eligible to vote (1) residents of Puerto 
Rico who are otherwise eligible to vote under Puerto Rico 
electoral law and (2) U.S. citizens who were born in Puerto 
Rico but are not residents of Puerto Rico who are otherwise 
eligible to vote under Puerto Rico electoral law.
    The Committee understands that a substantial number of 
individuals born in Puerto Rico but not currently residing 
there hope to return to live in Puerto Rico one day. 
Accordingly, they can be said to have a practical stake in 
helping to determine Puerto Rico's future political status. 
Although some individuals who are of Puerto Rican descent but 
who were not born in Puerto Rico may also hope to live in 
Puerto Rico one day, the proportion is likely to be less than 
the proportion among individuals who were born in Puerto Rico. 
This subsection makes eligible those born in Puerto Rico but 
not those of Puerto Rican descent who were not born in Puerto 
Rico, and thereby chooses place of birth rather than ethnic 
identity as the eligibility criterion.
    Section 3(d) would require the Puerto Rico State Elections 
Commission to certify the results of the plebiscites authorized 
by this Act to the President of the United States and to the 
Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives of the 
United States.
    The Committee notes that the bill would not specify any 
next steps by Congress once it has received the results of the 
plebiscite among the three alternatives to the current status 
because Congress would be better able to determine what should 
be done based on the identity of the winning option and the 
margin of victory.
    Section 3(e) would require that the Puerto Rico State 
Elections Commission ensure that all ballots used for any 
plebiscite held under the Act include the full content of the 
ballot printed in English.
    Section 3(f) would require that all costs associated with 
any plebiscite held under the Act be paid for by the Government 
of Puerto Rico.

            COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Natural 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 this bill.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(2) 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 this bill. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) 
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 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
    2. Congressional Budget Act. As required by clause 3(c)(2) 
of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, this 
bill does not contain any new budget authority, spending 
authority, credit authority, or an increase or decrease in 
revenues or tax expenditures.
    3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill is to provide for a federally sanctioned 
self-determination process for the people of Puerto Rico.
    4. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate. Under clause 
3(c)(3) of rule XIII 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 this bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office:

H.R. 2499--Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009

    H.R. 2499 would allow Puerto Rico to conduct a vote on 
whether the island should retain its current relationship (a 
commonwealth) with the United States or pursue a different 
political status. If the vote favored retaining its current 
political status, Puerto Rico would be authorized to conduct an 
additional vote every eight years. If the vote favored a 
different political status, the legislation would allow Puerto 
Rico to conduct a second vote among three self-determination 
options (independence, sovereignty in association with the 
United States, or statehood). CBO estimates that enacting this 
legislation would have no significant impact on the federal 
budget because costs of conducting the votes would be paid by 
Puerto Rico.
    H.R. 2499 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would 
impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Matthew 
Pickford. This estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                           EARMARK STATEMENT

    H.R. 2499 does not contain any congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9 of rule XXI.

                PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing 
law.

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

    During the Full Natural Resources Committee markup of H.R. 
2499, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act, Congressman Jason Chaffetz 
offered an amendment that required that a two-thirds vote, not 
a simple majority, apply to any federally sanctioned plebiscite 
vote to end the current 111 year relationship the United States 
has with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. In addition, the 
amendment stipulated that if less than two-thirds of the voters 
in Puerto Rico selected either Statehood, Independence or a 
Freely Associated State status that it was the Sense of 
Congress that no further legislative action should occur on 
that option.
    The amendment was offered for several reasons. First, 
during the past 60 years, the voters in Puerto Rico have gone 
to the polls to express their views on four separate locally 
sanctioned plebiscites. While the results of the first two 
plebiscites were an endorsement of Commonwealth status, the 
last two votes were inconclusive. If the people of Puerto Rico 
desire to end their current relationship, then we believe that 
at least 66 percent of those voting should make that decision.
    Second, this requirement is consistent with what transpired 
in the territorities of Alaska and Hawaii. In fact, on June 27, 
1959, 132,938 residents of Hawaii voted affirmatively on the 
question of: ``Shall Hawaii immediately be admitted into the 
Union as a State.'' There were only 7,854 residents who voted 
no on statehood which means that 94 percent of those voting 
wanted to end their territorial status. Almost a year earlier, 
40,452 Alaskan residents voted on the nearly identical question 
of: ``Shall Alaska immediately be admitted into the Union as a 
State.'' By contrast, 8,010 Alaskan residents voted no on 
statehood. This represented a resounding 84 percent favorable 
vote for statehood. As we know, 50 years ago, Alaska and Hawaii 
became our 49th and 50th states respectively and there has been 
no debate that the overwhelming majority of their citizens 
supported statehood. Based on the results of the Alaska and 
Hawaii plebiscites, this level of support should not be 
insurmountable.
    Finally, the issue of Puerto Rico's political status has 
been debated passionately and in some isolated cases violently 
for decades. Based on past election results, it is more than 
likely that up to 50 percent of the population of the 
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or nearly 2 million people may feel 
disenfranchised by the results of any plebiscite. As a 
hypothetical example, if the voters choose to petition the 
Congress for statehood, then clearly their case is enhanced if 
84 or 94 percent of their voters have affirmatively endorsed 
this idea. In contrast, if only 51 percent of voters support 
statehood, this may well have a chilling impact on Puerto 
Rico's success of achieving statehood.
    During Committee debate on this amendment, the sponsor 
indicated that becoming a state is similar to a marriage. On 
their wedding day, nearly every bride and groom hopes that 
their respective families will support their decision to enter 
into this union. However, there are instances where some 
members of the respective families oppose the impending union 
and will by their actions or inactions bring marital discord to 
the newlyweds. In this example, the effect is limited to the 
married couple. However, in the case of Puerto Rico, unhappy 
results will have a profound effect on millions of Puerto 
Ricans who may well feel that a change in their political 
status is being forced upon them.
    We believe that a 66 percent majority vote is not 
undemocratic, unfair or unattainable based on the experiences 
in Alaska and Hawaii. Congress can establish any standard it 
wants as a precondition for statehood. For example, in 1807, 
the formerly predominantly French territory of Louisiana 
adopted English as its official language as a precondition for 
its admission into the Union as a State. Instead of being a 
deterrent, we believe this level of local support for either 
Statehood, Independence or a Freely Associated State status 
will help the people of Puerto Rico make their case to the 
Congress.
    The election outcome in Puerto Rico must be clean, 
unambiguous, fair and supported by a significant majority of 
the residents of the Commonwealth. It is regrettable that the 
proponents of H.R. 2499 felt that this amendment was premature 
and were unwilling to accept this standard to help them in 
their effort to clarify the future political status of Puerto 
Rico. It is our hope that as H.R. 2499 moves through the 
legislative process, the proponents of this measure will see 
the wisdom of our approach.

                                   Jason Chaffetz.
                                   Cynthia Lummis.