Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico

The Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico is a non-voting member of the United States House of Representatives elected by the voters of the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico every four years,[1] the only member of the House of Representatives who serves a four-year term.

Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico
Seal of the United States House of Representatives.svg
Jenniffer Gonzalez (cropped).jpg
Incumbent
Jenniffer González

since January 3, 2017
United States House of Representatives
SeatPuerto Rico
Term lengthFour years, renewable[1]
FormationJanuary 2, 1900
First holderFederico Degetau
Websitegonzalez-colon.house.gov

Commissioners function in every respect as a member of Congress, including sponsoring legislation and serving on congressional committees, where they can vote on legislation,[2] except that they are denied a vote on the final disposition of legislation on the House floor.[3] They receive a salary of $174,000 per year[4] and are identified as Member of Congress.[2]

The current commissioner is Jenniffer González-Colón of the New Progressive Party (PNP), the first woman to hold the post.[1] She is also affiliated with the Republican Party (R) at the national level.

Other U.S. territories have a similar representative position called a delegate.

HistoryEdit

The United States Congress had seated non-voting "delegates" from various territories since 1794 as the country expanded across North America; these territories were all eventually admitted as states. The position of delegate was a legislative position with a two-year term, just like a member of Congress.[5]

The United States acquired several overseas possessions as a result of the Spanish–American War. While the House of Representatives voted in 1900 for Puerto Rico to select a delegate, Congress instead devised a new form of territorial representative in the Resident Commissioner. United States Senator John Coit Spooner argued that granting a territory a delegate implied that it was on the path to statehood, which he asserted was not guaranteed for the new possessions acquired in the war, such as Puerto Rico and the Philippines.[5] In fact, more than a century later, neither has become a state. (Puerto Rico remains a U.S. territory, while The Philippines became an independent republic in 1946.)

The original Resident Commissioner positions served a two-year term, though it was later extended to four years starting in 1920.[5] [1] The position also had executive responsibility in addition to legislative ones. The term had been used as to parts of the British Empire (see Resident Commissioner), but in an almost opposite sense; sent or recognized as the Crown's representative to manage a territory. American Resident Commissioner always refers to a representative of a territory to the national government.[5]

This representation has evolved over time. At first, the resident commissioner could not even be present on the floor of the House of Representatives; floor privileges were granted in 1902.[5] In 1904, the officeholder gained the right to speak during debate and serve on the Committee on Insular Affairs, which had responsibility for the territories gained in the Spanish-American War.[5]

In 1933, Resident Commissioner Santiago Iglesias was appointed to additional committees, and each of his successors has served on other committees also.[5] But only in 1970 did the Resident Commissioner gain the right to vote in committees, gain seniority, or hold leadership positions.[5]

The present-day Resident Commissioner, like the delegates from other territories and the District of Columbia, have almost all of the rights of other House members, including being able to sponsor bills and offer amendments and motions.[5] Territorial representatives remain unable to vote on matters before the full House.

Summary of commissionersEdit

Puerto Rico's at-large congressional districtEdit

Puerto Rico's at-large congressional district
 
Resident Commissioner
  Jenniffer Gonzalez[a]
RSan Juan
Area3,515 sq mi (9,100 km2)
Population (2019)3,193,694
Median household
income
14,412
Ethnicity
Occupation

Puerto Rico is represented by a non-voting resident commissioner in the United States House of Representatives. The current resident commissioner is Jenniffer González.

List of resident commissioners pre-Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto RicoEdit

Resident Commissioner Local Party National Party Dates Electoral history
District created: March 4, 1901
 
Federico Degetau y González
Republican Republican March 4, 1901 –
March 3, 1905
[data unknown/missing]
Retired.
 
Tulio Larrínaga
Union Party [data unknown/missing] March 4, 1905 –
March 3, 1911
[data unknown/missing]
Retired.
 
Luis Muñoz Rivera
Union Party [data unknown/missing] March 4, 1911 –
November 15, 1916
[data unknown/missing]
Died.
Vacant November 16, 1916 –
August 6, 1917
Special election July 16, 1917
 
Félix L. M. Córdova Dávila
Union Party [data unknown/missing] August 7, 1917 –
April 11, 1932
Appointed Puerto Rico Supreme Court justice
Vacant April 12, 1932 –
April 14, 1932
[data unknown/missing]
 
José Lorenzo Pesquera
Independent [data unknown/missing] April 15, 1932 –
March 3, 1933
[data unknown/missing]
Retired.
 
Santiago Iglesias Pantín
Socialist [data unknown/missing] March 4, 1933 –
December 5, 1939
[data unknown/missing]
Died.
Vacant December 5, 1939 –
December 26, 1939
[data unknown/missing]
 
Bolívar Pagán
Republican Union [data unknown/missing] December 26, 1939 –
January 3, 1945
[data unknown/missing]
Retired.
 
Jesús T. Piñero Jiménez
Popular Democratic Democratic January 3, 1945 –
September 2, 1946
[data unknown/missing]
Resigned to become Governor of Puerto Rico.

Resident commissioners under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto RicoEdit

   Popular Democratic Party (6)
   New Progressive Party (6)

US Party Affiliation

   Democratic Party (10)
   Republican Party (2)

Resident Commissioner Party Affiliation
within U.S. politics
Years Electoral history
1  
Antonio Fernós-Isern
Popular Democratic Democratic September 11, 1946 –
January 3, 1965
Appointed to finish Piñero's term.
Re-elected in 1948.
Re-elected in 1952.
Re-elected in 1956.
Re-elected in 1960.
Retired.
2  
Santiago Polanco Abreu
Popular Democratic Democratic January 3, 1965 –
January 3, 1969
Elected in 1964.
Lost re-election.
3  
Jorge Luis Córdova
New Progressive Democratic January 3, 1969 –
January 3, 1973
Elected in 1968.
Lost re-election.
4  
Jaime Benítez
Popular Democratic Democratic January 3, 1973 –
January 3, 1977
Elected in 1972.
Lost re-election.
5  
Baltasar Corrada del Río
New Progressive Democratic January 3, 1977 –
January 3, 1985
Elected in 1976.
Re-elected in 1980.
Retired to run for mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
6  
Jaime Fuster
Popular Democratic Democratic January 3, 1985 –
March 3, 1992
Elected in 1984.
Re-elected in 1988.
Resigned to become Justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico.
7  
Antonio Colorado
Popular Democratic Democratic March 4, 1992 –
January 3, 1993
Appointed to finish Fuster's term.
Lost re-election.
8  
Carlos Romero Barceló
New Progressive Democratic January 3, 1993 –
January 3, 2001
Elected in 1992.
Re-elected in 1996.
Lost re-election.
9  
Aníbal Acevedo Vilá
Popular Democratic Democratic January 3, 2001 –
January 3, 2005
Elected in 2000.
Retired to run for Governor of Puerto Rico.
10  
Luis Fortuño
New Progressive Republican January 3, 2005 –
January 3, 2009
Elected in 2004.
Retired to run for Governor of Puerto Rico.
11  
Pedro Pierluisi
New Progressive Democratic January 3, 2009 –
January 3, 2017
Elected in 2008.
Re-elected in 2012.
Retired to run for Governor of Puerto Rico.
12  
Jenniffer Gonzalez
New Progressive Republican January 3, 2017 –
present
Elected in 2016.
Re-elected in 2020

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Gonzalez caucuses with the Republican Party.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Michael Wines (July 26, 2019). "She's Puerto Rico's Only Link to Washington. She Could Be Its Future Governor". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b James R. Fuster, Member of Congress from Puerto Rico (August 29, 1990). "Our 51st State?". Newsweek.
  3. ^ "Commish. Jenniffer González-Colón, Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico's At-Large District, Republican". govtrack.us. January 3, 2017. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  4. ^ Ida A. Brudnick. "Salaries of Members of Congress : Recent actions and Historical Tables". Senate.gov. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Rundquist, Paul S. "Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico". congressionalresearch.com. Retrieved August 3, 2019.

External linksEdit