After decades of failed attempts at Statehood, and with nearly $70 billion in public debt, Puerto Rico is poised to once again make a push to become the 51st state in the Union.
This time, Puerto Rico plans to pursue a process known as the “Tennessee Plan,” documented in Caribbean Business:
SAN JUAN – Flanked by a group of legislators and mayors waving U.S. flags, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed into law House Bill 876, which creates a committee comprising two U.S. senators and five representatives who will lobby in Congress and the U.S. government for Puerto Rico’s statehood, a process publicly known as the Tennessee Plan.
As the island’s legislature prepares to evaluate the island’s budget, the first to need certification by the Financial Oversight & Management Board, the governor said he will convene with the legislative presidents to determine who will be the seven Puerto Rican members of Congress who will lobby in Washington, D.C. for Puerto Rico’s admission as the 51st state of the Union. He added he will look for “the best” representatives in the next 30 days.
The members of Congress will be selected by the governor, but must be confirmed by the House and Senate before beginning their duties. Two years later, once their term ends, they will be elected by the public, as established in the Act for Equality and Congressional Representation of the American Citizens of Puerto Rico.
“This was a strategy from the 18th century. It was also a strategy from the 19th and 20th centuries. It was a strategy that has worked 100% of time … It is a perfect complement to what has been developed in the [June 11] political-status referendum,” Rosselló said regarding the Tennessee Plan during a press conference in La Fortaleza. Puerto Rico would be the eighth U.S. jurisdiction to use the Tennessee Plan to request admission as a state, after Tennessee, Michigan, Iowa, California, Oregon, Kansas and Alaska.
ProEnglish, the nation’s leading advocate of preserving English as our common language, says that any application for Puerto Rico to become the 51st state must stipulate that English become its primary official language of the government, courts and school system.