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  • Statehood for Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands

    The House passed a little noticed bill, H.R.3940, on a voice vote on December 7, 2009 to provide money to Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands money to “facilitate public education programs regarding political status options for their respective territories.”  The Senate is considering consideration of this measure before the end of the year.  This idea would use your tax dollars to fund U.S. territories’ efforts to secure statehood.

    This is not the first time your tax dollars have been used to push for statehood of a U.S. Territory or Commonwealth.  The Puerto Rican Democracy Act, H.R. 2499, passed the House on April 29th of this year on a 223-169 vote.  This bill also awaits Senate consideration and there is a push to get this bill passed by the end of the year. As we wrote earlier:

    The legislation provides Puerto Rico a two stage voting process and makes some non-resident Puerto Ricans eligible to vote on Puerto Rican statehood.  This legislation has rigged the process in favor of making Puerto Rico the 51st state and is not a fair way to force statehood on a Commonwealth whose people may not want it.

    Statehood referendum bills are the next natural push for Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands, if the education effort, funded by your tax dollars, is successful.  There are many who live in these territories do not want statehood and would prefer to remain a territory.  They are provided with no money to make their case.  This is yet another example of the federal government rigging the system in favor of statehood for a Territory or Commonwealth.

    H.R. 3940 would authorize the Department of the Interior (DOI) to provide assistance to the territories of Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to educate them on the ideas of statehood, free association, independence, or maintaining the status quo.  This is exactly the choice originally provided to the people of Puerto Rico in one version of the Puerto Rican Democracy Act.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has scored H.R. 3940 at $2 million. If these two bills pass the Senate, your tax dollars will be used to fund a rigged election in Puerto Rico in favor of statehood and you will be funding the beginnings of statehood pushes for other U.S. territories.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Statehood for Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands

    1. John Wasko, Pago Pag says:

      The conclusions stated by the author are inaccurate and misguided. Linking political status and statehood is an unwarranted stretch of the imagination.

      In fact American Samoa did convene a constitutional convention to discuss political status and other constitutional issues. It was the first such conclave since the 1960's.

      At issue were topics such as Department of the Interior oversight of constitutional amendments. At no time was statehood even remotely discussed. In fact, no discussion of political status ever came to a vote or was an agenda item.

      Federal funds help to strengthen democracies as is evident in this example. For the author to misrepresent this fact only mirrors the disparity between responsible journalism and the world of misinformed bloggers.

    2. Sarah Echols, Commun says:

      Since Puerto Rico became a U.S territory in 1898, its residents – U.S. citizens since 1917 – have never voted on whether they are satisfied with the island’s status or want one of the possible alternatives. There have been plebiscites under local law only but all have included impossible status proposals.

      H.R. 2499, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act, would provide for fair, no-cost-to-the-federal-taxpayer plebiscites that Puerto Rico could conduct if it wishes — at its own cost — regarding the territory’s political status.

      H.R. 2499 would have zero cost to the U.S. treasury, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Consequently, no federal tax dollars would be used to “push” any status option.

      The bill also would not “force statehood” — or any other status. And the bill would not provide for Puerto Rico's status to change or even federal consideration of a change.

      H.R. 2499, additionally, does not favor statehood or any other possible status. Instead, it would provide terms for plebiscites, first on the current status — which does not enable the nearly four million U.S. citizens of the territory to have voting representation in the government that makes and implements their national laws.

      If voters are satisfied with the current status, the possible alternatives would not even be considered. Only if a majority of voters want a change would a plebiscite be authorized on all of the options determined to be possible by Congress — including the current status. This is a straightforward process that if anything, gives advantage to the current unincorporated territory status. Again, the bill is non-binding, meaning that any result in favor of a specific change in status would not require debate or action in the U.S. Congress.

      The bill would, however, fulfill the U.S. government’s responsibility to inform residents of a territory under the flag of history’s champion of democracy — who do not enjoy a democratic form of government at the national level — about their possible options for national government democracy.

      To learn more about Puerto Rico’s status issue, go to http://www.prfaa.com/hr2499.

    3. This is a very misleading article:
      1. American Samoa would never be able to push for statehood. It's an unorganized territory. It would need to adopt either Commonwealth (like Puerto Rico) or Organized Territory Status (like Guam)
      2. Guam is politically quite status-quo, with no more than 20% of the population backing Statehood, very few want independence. Funding the issue is a beautiful thing, Guamians could just as easily go for Commonwealth Status instead of Statehood.
      3. The Virgin Islands are a Tourist haven, if they became a state, we'd triple our Tourist revenue.
      4. Puerto Rico will become a state, DEAL WITH IT! LONG LIVE ESTADO DE PUERTO RICO!

    4. GuamForStatehood says:

      Guam for STATEHOOD!!!!!

      • Pete Bayona says:

        Why not? Guam can not continue to float in its trouble waters. Independece means losing all benefits provided by the Federal Government.

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