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Puerto Rico governor designates four members for Equality Commission

By on July 3, 2017

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares designated Monday the seven members of the Equality Commission, an entity that will request the island’s admission as the 51st U.S. state before Congress and the White House via the Tennessee Plan.

Former Govs. Carlos Romero Barceló and Pedro Rosselló González, the governor’s father, as well as former Senate President Charlie Rodríguez Colón, will be the three congressmen to represent the Democratic Party in the Equality Committee, the governor announced.

From left, former Gov. Carlos Romero Barceló and former baseball player Iván Rodríguez were designated by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to the Equality Committee, entity that will vouch for Puerto Rico’s statehood before Congress. (Courtesy)

Likewise, former Major League Baseball player Iván Rodríguez Torres will be the independent member of the new entity, created by the Equality and Congressional Representation for the American Citizens of Puerto Rico Act. The law establishes the selection of five representatives and two Puerto Rican senators to Congress, the number of congressional lawmakers that would apply to the island according to its number of residents.

Although the budget impact of this legislation had been $373,800, according to an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) document sent to the fiscal control board, the governor said that the amount could be used for other purposes because the members of the Equality Commission said they will work without being reimbursed for their expenses.

For this, Rosselló Nevares will send a legislative measure to amend the law to establish that the seven Puerto Rican “congressmen” won’t receive public funds. Rather, they would only be allowed to work from the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration’s offices in Washington, D.C.

The commission’s members must be confirmed for their positions by the Puerto Rico House and Senate. Since the Legislative Assembly is in recess, the designees can begin work immediately, although confirmed eventually in August. The other three nominees that will make up the commission and represent the Republican Party will be announced shortly.

“What a surprise that Iván Rodríguez is here!” said the former baseball player with a 20-year career said during a press conference in La Fortaleza.

Rodríguez Torres, one of the five federal representatives, thanked the governor for appointing him to “such an important group” and said that with his long career that includes being in the Baseball Hall of Fame, “I have many doors open in many parts of the world” that he will use to “push Puerto Rico forward.”

“As a former congressional representative, I have access to the [U.S.] House and the Senate chambers. I will have access that others won’t have; that’s what I’m going to do, to fight for political and economic equality [for Puerto Rico],” said Romero Barceló, who will be a federal senator in the group. “It’s not a matter of having privileges, it is [about] demanding what we deserve as American citizens,” the former resident commissioner for eight years and mayor of San Juan.

Rosselló González, who will also be a federal representative, said that this “cause” of achieving statehood for Puerto Rico “has dominated the ideas of my adult life,” along with the struggle for healthcare and education.

Meanwhile, Rodríguez Colón, president of the Democratic Party on the island and designated federal representative, said they will go to the “capitols of the 50 states to achieve statehood” for Puerto Rico.

“I want to highlight the quality of the individuals we are selecting in this endevour. All have had a track record of service to Puerto Rico and all have had successful results. Part of their mission will be to deliver those results to the people,” the governor said, adding that there “will be a strategic plan.”

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