The inability of the United States Congress to agree on a budget is delaying a possible plebiscite on Puerto Rico’s status.
Currently, the U.S. government is being largely funded on a continuing resolution that funds most agencies at fiscal year 2013 levels.
In the spring President Barack Obama proposed that Puerto Rico hold a plebiscite on its current commonwealth status. The plebiscite would allow voters to express support for statehood, independence, the current status, and perhaps other statuses.
On July 17 the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved $2.5 million as part of the fiscal 2014 budget for Puerto Rico to hold the plebiscite. In its version of the budget, the Senate did not approve the money.
“I am confident that if and when the two chambers reconcile their bills, the Senate will recede to the House and the language will be included,” said Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico’s nonvoting representative in congress.
Things will become clearer in the coming months, Pierluisi said.
Governor Alejandro García Padilla supports the plebiscite, expecting that it would be fair and include all status options, according to his press office. “If congress does not act upon the president’s referendum proposal by the end of the year, Gov. García Padilla will move forward and convene a constitutional assembly on status,” a spokeswoman for the governor said.
Regardless of the results of any plebiscite or assembly, for any change in the status to go into effect, U.S. Senate and House committees as well as the full Senate and House would have to pass any Puerto Rico status change by majority votes, and the president would have to sign it.