Cartoon by Kyle Wilson
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources convened a hearing on various topics including the issue of
If the Senate approves the measure, it will be following the example of the U.S. House of Representatives, where 128 Republican members recently voted in opposition to the bill, despite strong bipartisan support.
Among those in opposition to what’s being called the Puerto Rico Democracy Act was Congressman Sam Graves, a conservative from the
Congress has a constitutionally mandated responsibility to make rules and regulations for the territories of the
The Puerto Rico Democracy Act, if passed by the Senate and signed by President Obama, will allow the people of
In a recent e-mail to constituents, Congressman Graves implied that he opposed this legislation because Puerto Rico shouldn’t be forced by
Congressman Graves also suggested that he opposed this legislation simply because Puerto Ricans have opposed statehood in numerous votes throughout the last several decades. However, Congressman Pedro R. Pierluisi,
It’s difficult to understand why the congressman is so scared of Puerto Rican statehood. After all, statehood is only one of four possible outcomes. Moreover, any decision reached under the current bill would be non-binding and subject to further congressional debate before implementation.
Perhaps Congressman Graves is playing politics; he can’t bring himself to put the good of
Or, perhaps Congressman Graves is afraid that Puerto Rican statehood will undermine the Republican Party’s support of a national law making English the official language of the United States. This would also undermine conservative’s ability to use this as a political wedge issue. After all, continued GOP support for “English-as-the-national-language” will challenge the party’s legitimate support for the Tenth Amendment and states’ rights. Shouldn’t the “state” of Puerto Rico be more capable of deciding if it wants Spanish and English as its official languages, similar to the way
Of course, Congressman Graves may fear that Puerto Rican statehood will undermine his election-year posturing in the debate over other issues like immigration reform. He recently decided to co-sponsor H.R. 1868, a piece of “questionable legislation” that would remove a newborn’s citizenship status if it is born to an illegal immigrant. Not only could this legislation be “unconstitutional if passed,” but at least one of
Maybe fears of a Puerto Rican blue state are legitimate after all? Or, maybe attempts to spin the issues of immigration reform and Puerto Rican self determination into some “grand liberal conspiracy” are just that.
Whatever the case, these fears are irrational and none of them justifies Congressman Graves’ dereliction of duty. A vote in favor for the Puerto Rico Democracy Act would simply have been the right thing to do.
It’s time for the Senate to take responsibility where others have failed; it’s time to approve the Puerto Rico Democracy Act.
Note: The above cartoon featuring Congressman Sam Graves being led on a dog leash by a conservative think-tank while urinating on a road sign was designed by Kyle Wilson for this article. The cartoon may be reused, but Kyle Wilson must be credited or the image must be linked to this article.