February 16, 2011, New York -At today’s Stated Council meeting, members of the New York City Council voted on a resolution calling on Congress to reinstate the symbolic vote of the delegates from Puerto Rico, Washington D. C. and other U.S. territories in the House of Representatives, which was removed by the majority this past January.
“Puerto Rico, our Nation’s capital and other U.S. territories have greatly contributed to our political system and not to have them properly represented in Congress is a total disservice to the people that have made this country great,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. Today’s vote will send a strong message to Congress that it is only proper to allow the delegates and the Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner to be given voting rights that will fairly represent them. I want to thank Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Melissa Mark-Viverito for bringing this resolution to a vote.”
“Stripping away the voting rights of Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. Territories contradicts democracy in our great nation,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Chair of Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Group Relations. “It is unacceptable to take away their already limited voting rights in our legislative process. These places are a part of our country and they don’t deserve to be treated as second-class citizens. I applaud Speaker Quinn and Council Member Mark-Viverito for their support with this resolution and I am hopeful that Congress will repeal this unjust policy.”
“I am very pleased that the Council is sending a message loud and clear today that further silencing the people of Puerto Rico, Washington DC and the U.S. territories in our legislative process is totally unacceptable,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The new Republican Congress’ decision to strip the Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner and other delegates of their already limited voting rights was truly reprehensible, and must be reversed. I want to thank Speaker Quinn and Council Member Van Bramer for prioritizing this resolution and ushering it through the Committee for today’s floor vote.”
Over one million people of Puerto Rican descent live in New York State, of whom approximately 786,000 live in New York City. The people of Puerto Rican descent comprise thirty-five percent of all Hispanics living in New York State, as well as thirty-five percent of all Hispanics living in New York City, representing the largest group of Hispanics living in both the City and State.
Puerto Ricans lack any representation in Congress, other than through the honorary position of Resident Commissioner in the House of Representatives. On January 5, 2011, Congress passed House Resolution number five, which includes a provision to prevent six house delegates from presiding over, or voting as part of the Committee of the Whole. The Committee of the Whole is used to expedite the adoption of legislation by turning the entire House of Representatives chamber into one large committee. This action affects the voting rights of delegates from the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico. The action by Congress underrepresented many blacks, Latinos, Carribeans, and Pacific Islanders in our political system.