Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin proposes public hearing on Puerto Rico’s political status

Sen. Manchin's interest is unexpected given his opposition to advancing statehood for Puerto Rico without first consulting the US electorate to see if they support the admission of another state. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

By Mivette Vega

May 6, 2024

Manchin’s openness to a public hearing injects momentum into the dialogue, offering stakeholders a platform to voice their perspectives.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D -WV), the president of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, expressed interest in convening a public hearing on Puerto Rico’s political status debate before the current session of Congress ends in December.

Manchin’s interest is unexpected given his opposition to advancing statehood for Puerto Rico without first consulting the US electorate to see if they support the admission of another state.

RELATED: Democrats push for Puerto Rico’s SNAP inclusion amidst Republican resistance

There are several legislative proposals in the Senate regarding Puerto Rico’s political status.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) champions Bill 3231, which advocates for a binding federal plebiscite offering options of statehood, independence, or sovereignty in free association. Meanwhile, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) presented Bill 2944, which includes the territorial status of the Commonwealth as an alternative, potentially paving the way for renegotiation through a US-Puerto Rico commission.

Manchin’s openness to a public hearing injects momentum into the dialogue, offering stakeholders a platform to voice their perspectives. Gov. Pedro Pierluisi’s recent discussions with Manchin underscore the importance of such engagement, with Pierluisi eyeing a potential public hearing before August, aligning with the 11-year anniversary of the last Senate hearing on Puerto Rico’s political status.

However, the path forward remains complex. In a divided Senate, securing bipartisan support is essential, yet challenges persist. While Heinrich’s bill has the support of 24 Democratic senators, it faces opposition from Republicans. Wicker’s proposal introduces additional considerations, emphasizing the need for stability, fiscal responsibility, and cultural preservation in any status change.

RELATED: New Biden rules deliver automatic cash refunds for canceled flights, ban surprise fees

The dynamics extend beyond the Senate chamber, with the House of Representatives also grappling with similar proposals. Despite prior approval of measures like Bill 3231, progress stalls amidst Republican resistance, reflecting the broader polarization surrounding statehood.

Amidst these political currents, Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González advocates for immediate action, urging Pierluisi to initiate a local plebiscite. However, Pierluisi remains focused on congressional engagement, dismissing González’s calls as campaign rhetoric ahead of gubernatorial primaries.

Author

  • Mivette Vega

    Mivette Vega is a seasoned journalist and multimedia reporter whose stories center the Latino community. She is passionate about justice, equality, environmental matters, and animals. She is a Salvadorrican—Salvadorian that grew up in Puerto Rico—that has lived in San Juan, Venice, Italy, and Miami.

CATEGORIES: COMMUNITY

Politics

Local News

Related Stories
Share This