If U.S. national sovereignty continues, it is only as a state that Puerto Rico will have permanent 10th Amendment powers over its non-federal affairs, as well as voting power in Congress.
However, the sovereignty of the states is constitutionally defined and recognized, while the powers of the local government in Puerto Rico are defined by, and subject to alteration under, federal statutory law.
The need for a permanent status resolution approved by Congress is made even more clear to me because of my experience as a former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.
That is why, with optimism instead of fear, all those who want to see Puerto Rico's status resolved should seek the truth about each option, including the upside and the downside of each.
In historical and constitutional terms, the recent political status vote in Puerto Rico was a necessary but obviously not decisive step on the road of self-determination leading to full self-government.
Federal program and services outlay in Puerto Rico is approximately $10 billion per year.
It is quite understandable that Puerto Ricans seek to preserve a cultural sense of identity without separating politically from U.S. national sovereignty.
If Congress does its job in this regard, the residents of Puerto Rico will be empowered to act in their own self-interest and express their future political status aspirations accordingly.
Yet, Puerto Rico's economic convergence and political integration with the rest of the nation is in a state of arrest - even though the island has been within the national borders, political system and customs territory of the U.S. for a century.
Specifically, the reservation of sovereignty to the people of the states in matters not governed by federal law is constitutionally defined and permanently enshrined in the 10th Amendment.
The capacity of the commonwealth government created under the local constitution to exercise governmental powers in local affairs is like that of local government in the states of the union in regard to non-federal affairs at the local level.
Yet, individuals and corporations in Puerto Rico pay no federal income tax.
The political status legislation which emerged in Congress in 1990 and 1991 did not receive the support needed for enactment into law during my tenure as Attorney General.
Now that the there is a path for the people of Puerto Rico to express their self-determination on Puerto Rico's political status, there are some who seek to block that path.
After one hundred years of federal rule, the United States House of Representatives has moved to provide for the first meaningful route to self-determination for the Puerto Rican people under our federal system.
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