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McKeon’s intentions are unclear

Posted: November 4, 2009 9:52 p.m.
Updated: November 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
According to a Congressional Research Office study conducted in 2002, California will lose one seat in Congress if Puerto Rico becomes the 51st state. That that is not good for California is obvious. What is not clear is why Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, is sponsoring a bill designed to fake a Puerto Rican majority for statehood.

This month, HR2499 will be put before the House for a vote. On its face, it simply authorizes a plebiscite on whether Puerto Rico wants to remain a commonwealth, become a state or an independent nation in association or not with the United States.

But put a magnifying glass on the bill's voting scheme and you will discover a ruse.

In a 1993 vote, commonwealth got 48.6 percent, statehood 46.3 percent and independence 4.4 percent. Statehood again came in second in 1998 with 46.5 percent.

To get around statehood's consistent second place results, HR2499 divides the voting process into two rounds.

The first round is a yes-or-no vote on the current commonwealth status.

This allows for a coalition of the pro-statehood and pro-independence supporters to beat commonwealth, even though commonwealth is preferred to either. Commonwealth will then be excluded from the second round, guaranteeing a statehood victory.

Sneaky, is it not?

McKeon might say that he is not risking a seat for California because the vote is non-binding. But the statehood party has stated in its platform that when victorious it will do as Tennessee did in 1795 - declare Puerto Rico a state and send an elected delegation to Congress demanding to be seated. Alaska did that in 1956-1959 and got away with it.

Few in Congress have the time or interest to see through the apparent innocuousness of HR2499 and discover its true anti-Democratic nature. In the case of McKeon, ignorance could carry the price of losing a seat in Congress for California.

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