From the office of Congressman Michael San Nicolas
(Washington, D.C.) Congressman Michael San Nicolas is seeking to expand Territorial representation in the United States Congress by establishing a non-voting representative to the United States Senate for each U.S. Territory. H.R.5526 provides for a non-voting delegate to the Senate to represent American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands of the United States.
Currently, Territories only have non-voting delegates to the Unted States House of Representatives, with no membership in the U.S. Senate. This results in Territories being under-represented in the Congress, because the overall Congress is a bi-cameral body that includes both the House and the Senate.
"Every federal law passed requires the involvement of both the House and the Senate, and Territories are only involved in half of the process," opened Congressman San Nicolas. "Whenever there are differences between House and Senate versions of legislation, the need for representation in both is critical to ensure that all perspectives are considered," Congressman San Nicolas added.
Currently HR 1365 to authorize federal payments War Claims is under Senate consideration as it has already passed the House, and while Congressman San Nicolas reports that a favorable outcome in the Senate is likely to occur soon, the lack of Senate representation is still felt. "If we had a U.S. Senator we could have had a mirror version of HR 1365 moving through the Senate at the same time, helping the process to move even faster," Congressman San Nicolas explains. "Additionally, certain amendments like those in the NDAA which originated in the Senate, could have been more thoroughly explained if there was actual Senate representation for Territories," said Congressman San Nicolas.
"It is a common sense next-step in the pursuit of territorial justice to at the very least extend a non-voting seat in the Senate, so that voices can be heard and the interests of the Republic represented from Territorial jurisdictions," Congressman San Nicolas concludes.