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Puerto Rico, Guam Kneecap Gulf Coast

UPDATE 3:24 pm

It was brought to my attention that some are suggesting here that the article is incorrect in stating that inhabitants of insular territories are not American citizens.  In fact, those native born inhabitants living in insular areas are constitutionally barred from citizenship under the Citizenship Clause of the United States Constitution.  They are not allowed to vote in presidential elections and they are represented by a non-voting delegate in the House and do not have representation in the U.S. Senate.  They do not pay federal income tax but instead in some cases pay an equivalent that goes directly to the territorial treasury–not the U.S. federal government.

They were granted statutory (revokeable) citizenship rights on the mainland in some cases but, as the article states, not citizenship with voting rights as constituents of the representative House delegates residing in the insular areas.  That would change if any of these territories became states.

Original article:

In a stunning turn of events late last week, a five-vote bloc of U.S. “non-voting” territorial delegates were the deciding votes blocking an amendment to kill the Obama administration’s moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
 
Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) offered an amendment in the House Natural Resources Committee markup of the CLEAR Act that would have banned the moratorium that has already been thrown out twice by a U.S. federal court. The Obama administration has ignored the court orders issuing an additional ban.

The moratorium is currently wreaking havoc on the Gulf Coast economy.
 
The CLEAR Act is another of the myriad energy bills Democrats seek to ram through Congress as a result of the oil spill aftermath that have little to do with the spill and everything to do with their faux green energy power grab.
 
Cassidy’s amendment was killed by the “non-voting” members of the U.S. territories who have been granted the right to vote by the majority in any committee on which they serve.
 
These delegates represent territories of the United States whose constituencies are not U.S. citizens:  Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.  Natives of these territories pay no U.S. federal income taxes.

In 2007, Democrats granted these delegates the ability to vote on amendments on the floor of the House with the concession that the vote will be done over if their votes are the deciding factor.
 
During the fierce 2007 debate, House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) called granting these delegates floor voting rights, “An outrageous grab of power by the majority.”
 
Then Republican Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said allowing these “non-voting” delegates a House Congressional floor vote amounted to, “Representation without taxation.”
 
Delegates are not allowed to vote on final passage of a bill and deciding votes on amendments cause a second round of voting without their participation.  That only pertains to the House floor.  In committee, their amendment votes are binding.

All of the House delegates caucus with the Democrats. The Senate does not have territorial delegates.

The drilling moratorium ban amendment was killed by these House U.S. territorial votes.  The committee vote tally sheet is posted here on local Louisiana blog The Hayride.
 
Cassidy told HUMAN EVENTS in an interview post-vote that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has stacked the committee with votes against domestic energy development on the whole.
 
“There is an ideological bias in this Congress starting at the top against domestic energy production unless it is the ephemeral promise of windmills and solar panels,” Cassidy said.  “If it were not for the representatives of the territories, she would have stacked it with someone else.  There are only three Democrats on that committee who represent areas that produce energy:  the Chairman [Nick Rahall (W.V.)], Jim Costa (Calif.) and Dan Boren (Okla.).  Those are the three that voted for my amendment to end the moratorium.”

Cassidy said there’s a great sense of relief that no new oil is currently leaking into the Gulf but there’s a sense of impending doom in Louisiana over the drilling moratorium.

“There’s just a sense here that Obama hates Louisiana,” Cassidy said.  “This moratorium is not hurting Tony Heyward or BP.  They’re just going to move their rigs to Libya and start drilling there.  The people it is hurting are families.  Imagine the typical middle class family if you interrupt their income for six months what that would do to their finances.  This is a people moratorium.”

For more on the Cassidy amendment and the vote, read it here on The Hayride. 

Written By

Connie Hair writes a weekly column for HUMAN EVENTS. She is a former speechwriter for Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.).

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