By Brian Darling
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.