NPP Confident in Possible Federal Approval of Status Referendum
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló expressed confidence the federal government will respond in accordance with the results of the June 11 political-status plebiscite.
The New Progressive Party (NPP) issued the governor’s statements during a press conference in Washington after holding meetings with members of Congress.
The governor argued that although the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) did not approve the Immediate Decolonization Act, which establishes the referendum, the federal government will be “morally obliged” to address the ballot issue, which is being boycotted by the political opposition and representatives of organizations that support different status options besides statehood, the latter of which the NPP openly endorses.
Rosselló said the referendum “is a real process,” and stated he is amazed it has been criticized as a mere political exercise on behalf of his administration.
The governor, accompanied by Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González and Puerto Rico Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, affirmed that because the P.R. legislative assembly amended the decolonization act to include the DOJ requests, the local government complied with the federal demands.
Meanwhile, Rivera Schatz said that “common sense tells us that if some amendments are suggested and they are adopted…they cannot have reservations.”
The DOJ warned the P.R. government last April that it would need time to oversee the amendments for the federal agency to authorize Congress to allocate $2.5 million to finance the referendum’s educational campaign.
During their stay in Washington, the NPP officials met with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.); Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.); Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee; and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).
Rosselló informed members of the press that their meetings centered on Medicaid, the federal tax reform and the plebiscite, in that order.
Moreover, González reiterated that, according to the work plan of the Natural Resources Committee, there should be a public audience during the summer to analyze the plebiscite’s results. She added that her office will present other bills to follow up on Puerto Rico’s status, to provide more options for Congress to act on the result, which the NPP is confident will be a victory for statehood.
These measures complement the bill in favor of annexing Puerto Rico as the 51st state of the Union, which was filed in January, and another bill approved in San Juan to designate seven officials to be transferred to Washington to actively lobby Capitol Hill in favor of statehood.