Don't tell anybody but Congress is scheduled to vote today on H.R. 2499, a bill that could end up paving the way to Puerto Rican statehood, that is being presented with such incredible stealth that it has been given almost no coverage in the mainstream media. In fact, about the only person in the media shining a light on this bill until recently has been Glenn Beck. Liberals can be expected to write off Beck's criticisms of H.R. 2499 as just another example of "right-wing kookery." Frances Martel of Mediaite has already mocked Beck for his opposition to this bill.
However, liberals will have a hard time writing off similar criticisms of the stealth Puerto Rico status bill being made by liberal Democrat Luis Gutierrez of Illinois who is of Puerto Rican descent. While reading Guiterrez slamming H.R. 249 in his Huffington Post blog, you sometimes have to slap yourself as a reminder that these criticisms are not coming from a conservative Republican...or Glenn Beck:
H.R. 2499, the Puerto Rico statehood bill was brought to the House this week after a surprise announcement last Thursday. Debate on this bill has been severely limited by the way Democratic Leaders are managing the process. Democratic Puerto Rican Members of Congress are being shut out of the process and will be severely limited in their ability to debate the bill and offer amendments. Under the current Democratic Leadership, there will be less opportunity for Members and for the people of Puerto Rico to gain a better understanding of the bill.
Remember, this is Congressman Luis Guitierrez writing, not Glenn Beck. And from here, his criticisms of the Puerto Rico status bill becomes even harsher:
In my opinion, this bill is the political equivalent of a shady Goldman Sachs derivative: It's secretive. It lacks transparency. It's likely to blow up down the road and cause systemic risk to our democracy. And those who put this political derivative together don't really tell you what this is really about and will play dumb when it explodes.
I get more time to debate renaming a Post Office than I will get to debate a bill that could make Puerto Rico the fifty-first state.
Not Glenn Beck! Not Glenn Beck! Just thought I would have to remind you again. And now a shocker from Guiterrez who actually praises (and implicity slams Nancy Pelosi) former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich for his handling of another Puerto Rico status bill:
When a similar Puerto Rico bill came up under Speaker Newt Gingrich's Republican controlled Congress a decade ago, it was the product of lengthy and thorough hearings and an open and fair process. Now, under Democratic Leadership, we get one hearing, no forewarning, no companion Senate bill, and a debate only a few seconds longer than a NASCAR pit-stop.
Then, I was given time to offer seven amendments. Then I was able to clarify the bill for the Puerto Rican people. Then, each of my seven amendments got 30 minutes of floor time for debate. Flash forward to now. Now a Democratic Majority Congress is only allowing me two of the 16 amendments I offered in the Rules Committee on Wednesday. Now I only have 10 minutes to debate each one.
Then was then this is now.
This means Speaker Gingrich, not a Speaker I voted for, not MY Speaker, allowed me 210 minutes of debate on my amendments alone, and under Democratic Leadership I get two amendments at ten-minutes each.
What's the rush? Something is wrong with this picture. It just does not add up.
Pinch yourself again to remind yourself that you are not reading Glenn Beck:
It is designed to craft an artificial majority for statehood where none exists now. Every time the people of Puerto Rico have been consulted on this issue through a plebiscite they've said NO to Statehood. NO to Statehood in 1967. NO to Statehood in 1993. NO to Statehood in 1998. This should be called the "Don't you dare say NO to Statehood Bill".
Of course, Gutierrez has come out firmly against H.R. 2499:
For the first time I can remember, I am planning to vote against the rule crafted by my party to govern the floor debate of this bill (H.R. 2499). It is a vote I did not expect to have to cast and is a deep disappointment. But I'm left with no choice.
So, Luis, how is that "transparency" that President Obama promised working out for you?