March 01, 2010

Congressional Leaders Pushing Puerto Rico Statehood, Ignoring Costs, Impacts, and Rigged Process

Washington, D.C. – Friday’s editorial in The Washington Times reveals that the congressional leadership is pushing a stealth campaign to pass legislation this month that is “rigged” to allow Puerto Rico to become the nation’s 51st State.

“H.R. 2499 is rigged to guarantee a vote in favor of statehood in Puerto Rico without much debate and without considering the impacts,” said CONLAMIC Chairman Rev. Miguel Rivera. “Every Member of Congress needs to sit up urgently and pay attention to this deceptive bill. There are massive costs and economic and social impacts of admitting Puerto Rico as our 51st State. These questions must be answered in a fair, open process before any this process goes forward.”

During the 1990s debate over Puerto Rico statehood, studies showed that the cost to the US Treasury of admitting Puerto Rico as a state would be more than $25.9 billion a year. “But those numbers were before unemployment hit 16% and Puerto Rico’s public debt reached almost $50 billion. The costs of extending all Federal benefits to Puerto Rico’s population today would be astronomical,” Rev. Rivera added. “How can congressional leaders be focusing on this when we have unmet needs, high unemployment and budget pressures right here in the 50 United States?”

The Washington Times says the bill would establish an “underhanded” process to achieve statehood “by hook or crook,” creating “major problems.”

The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) calls on Congress to put an end to closed-door deals that affect our future.

“This legislation is reportedly going to be voted on in just a few weeks, yet nobody has heard about it. It’s time to open the process and to have an honest debate about Puerto Rican statehood,” Rev. Rivera concluded.

CONLAMIC represents over 16,000 Churches across 34 states within the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Each of these churches represents hundreds of individuals who attend church services and related activities every week.

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