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Press Release

Senate Committee On

Energy & Natural Resources

Frank H. Murkowski, Alaska, Chairman

March 17, 1999


To Review Results of December 1998 Plebiscite

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Following through on a promise in a Senate resolution last year, Chairman Frank H. Murkowski today announced he will hold a hearing at 9:30 a.m., Thursday, May 6, 1999, in Senate Hart 216, to review the results of the December 1998 plebiscite in Puerto Rico.

In September 1998, the Senate by voice vote passed S.Res. 279, which conveyed the sense of the Senate that the chamber supports the right of Puerto Rico, through referendum or other means, to communicate its desires on future political status to the federal government, and that the federal government will consider such communication.

The Chairman repeatedly has stressed that Congress should not dictate political status options or mandate actions by the local governments of the U.S. territories. "However, we should provide a forum for our fellow citizens in the territories when they have taken the initiative to express their views," said Murkowski, who is Chairman of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee. "Recognizing the legitimacy of their aspirations and the validity of their actions, this hearing will allow the Governor of Puerto Rico, in accordance with local law, to formally present the result of the plebiscite."

All three political parties will be invited to the hearing to provide Congress with their interpretations of the results. Each represents a particular perspective on the future of Puerto Rico's political status. "While the three recognized parties do not represent all participants, they do represent fundamentally different aspirations for future political status. In addition, the record will be open to receive materials from other individuals or organizations, because it is worthwhile for Congress to fully consider all perspectives in the context of this exercise of local self government," the Chairman concluded.

Results of the Puerto Rico plebiscite were 46.6 percent for statehood, 2.5 percent for independence, less than 1 percent each for the commonwealth status quo and free association, and 50.3 percent for "none of the above."

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