Key Players in
Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. The author of the status legislation now before the House Resources Committee, which he chairs. Young, who advocates statehood for the island, has taken on the "decolonization" cause with a fervor. He has sparked bipartisan interest in Congress in his efforts for a resolution to the island's status dilemma.
Rep. George Miller, D-California. The ranking Democrat on the Resources Committee. Miller, who strongly opposed Young's status legislation last year on grounds that it was prejudicial to commonwealth, and because the 10 year transition could not guarantee a status change, has signed on to this year's bill after Young indicated he would greatly shorten the transition period. Miller's switch frees other House Democrats to back the bill.
Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia. As speaker of the House, Gingrich will give the final go-ahead on bringing the Young bill to the floor for a full House vote. The fact that he is one of the legislation's 70 co-sponsors greatly increases chances that he will do just hat once the measure clears committees.
Rep. Gerald Solomon, R- New York. The chairman of the House Rules Committee who is expected to propose an amendment that would require the state of Puerto Rico to adopt English as the language of instruction in its public schools. Solomon's panel must clear Young's bill for a floor vote. He is expected to introduce his potentially explosive language provision before the full House.
Manse Mansur, chief advisor on insular affairs to resources committee Chairman Young, Mansur, a former aide to pro-statehood ex- Rep. Rep Robert Lagomarsino and also a supporter of statehood for Puerto Rico, was the main craftsman of Young's status legislation and helped spur the Alaska Republican's interest in the island's political situation
Sen. Frank Murkowski, R- Alaska. The chairman of the Energy and Natural resources Committee, where upper chamber status legislation will be shaped. Murkowski, whose recent visit to the island raised hopes among commonwealth supporters that the option would get fairer shake in the senate, has yet to commit himself on specific status legislation. He appears to be more of a pragmatic than Young, and has accented fiscal rather than "colonial" concerns over the U.S. Puerto Rico relationship.
Sen. Dale Bumpers, D-Arkansas. The ranking Democrat on the Energy panel and a participant the last time the committee considered status legislation in 1991. Bumpers raised the idea then that a super majority plebiscite victory of 60 percent or more be required for statehood bid. He has yet to voice his sentiments on the island status issue this time around.
Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Bob Graham, D- Florida. Co-authors of legislation that mostly mirrors the Young bill, Both are members of the Energy Committee which will take up their bill, the only status legislation in the Senate so far Murkowski has not yet said whether he favors this measure.
Sen. Trent Lott, R- Mississippi. The president of the Senate. After input from other upper chamber Republican leaders, Lott will be the final arbiter of whether the 100-member Senate gets to debate and vote on legislation authorizing a plebiscite on the island next year. And what guarantees will be included that the status choice will be implemented.
Jim Beirne, Majority senior counsel of the Energy panel. Beirne, who dealt in depth with the status initiative in 1989-91, is the Senate's institutionalized memory of Puerto Rico. He has voiced the belied that any future plebiscite should offer the shortest possible definitions for each status How much influence he will have with Murkowski remains to be seen.
Jeffrey Farrow. The co-chair of the White House Working Group on Puerto Rico. The exodus of White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes leaves Farrow as the one White House official with any extensive knowledge about the intricacies of Puerto Rico status. Farrow speaks for the president tom the status issue.
President Clinton. Where the buck eventually will stop. The president will make the final decision on whether any status legislation passed by Congress becomes law. He has said, though spokesman Farrow that he would like the status process in full swing next year. Clinton looks forward to "our entering the new millennium (less than three years from now) having concluded the debate and implementing the will of the Puerto Rican people".