WASHINGTON--Last year President Obama signed an executive order creating a task force on Puerto Rico's status. The group is meeting in San Juan on Wednesday.
Click below for opening statement from the Justice Department
Below, from the White House....
OPENING STATEMENT AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY BY ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY GENERAL TOM PERRELLI, CO-CHAIR OF THE PRESIDENT'S TASK FORCE ON PUERTO RICO'S STATUS
SAN JUAN, P.R.
Good morning and welcome to the President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status field hearing in San Juan, Puerto Rico. My name is Tom Perrelli, and I am the Associate Attorney General at the Department of Justice. But I am here today in my role as co-chair for the President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status. And as co-chair, I am honored to be here with all of you.
This is a momentous occasion. A group of senior-level federal officials has never before come to Puerto Rico to listen to the Puerto Rican people in their home - to listen to the concerns of the people here, to listen to what is important to them, and to listen to suggestions they have for the federal government. In fact, I think an event like this is long overdue, and I speak for the entire task force when I say that we are all very honored to be part of this historic trip, and enthusiastic about a chance to talk and engage with you. This visit is an important first step, but still just a step in the process of working together to make real progress in many different areas that impact the lives of Puerto Ricans.
Now let me say a few words on the status issue - something that I know is very important to all of Puerto Rico and that you all care about very deeply and passionately. I know the President strongly believes that the status question is a significant one. He also believes that Puerto Rico's status must be based on self-determination by the people of Puerto Rico. And we on the Task Force have come here with open minds and neutrality on this issue. I think that point merits repeating: we on the Task Force have come here with open minds and neutrality on this issue.
I view today's hearing as a listening session for the federal officials here. We are going to spend today listening to you and hearing what you think the federal government can and should be doing to work with the people of Puerto Rico. We need this listening session - this is a new Administration in Washington that wants to engage with you, and we know that the first step is having an opportunity to hear from many of you.
We are starting today's program with a roundtable of participants who are knowledgeable community leaders and academics. We hope to have a dialogue with them about substantive ideas regarding the different issues laid out in President Obama's Executive Order. Later this afternoon, we will have a public hearing during which all of you in the audience will be able to address the task force directly. We are going to do our best to hear as many people and as many perspectives as possible - but I do want to point out that for anyone who does not get the chance, there is an email address on the bottom of your ticket, and it is PuertoRico@who.eop.gov. Please, if your voice is not heard today, make sure it is hear by those of us returning to Washington. We need to hear from you.
So again, thank you for welcoming us, and thank you in advance for what I hope will be an honest and constructive dialogue. We hope to come away with many ideas that we, working with you, can turn into concrete and specific policies and recommendations for the President and Congress.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 30, 2009
AMENDMENTS TO EXECUTIVE ORDERS 13183 AND 13494:
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including 40 U.S.C. 101, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Executive Order 13183 of December 23, 2000, as amended, is further amended as follows:
(a) The preamble is amended by deleting ", includingPublic Law 106-346."
(b) Section 1 is amended by adding the following sentence after the second sentence: "It is also the policy of the executive branch to improve the treatment of Puerto Rico in Federal programs and to promote job creation, education, health care, clean energy, and economic development on the islands."
(c) Section 3 is amended by deleting the second, third, and fourth sentences and inserting in lieu thereof the following: "The Task Force shall ensure official attention to and facilitate action on matters related to proposals for Puerto Rico's status and provide advice and recommendations on such matters to the President and the Congress. The Task Force shall also identify and promote existing Federal initiatives that benefit Puerto Rico; provide advice and recommendations to
the President and the Congress on the treatment of Puerto Rico in Federal programs; and provide advice and recommendations to the President and the Congress on policies and initiatives that promote job creation, education, health care, clean energy, and economic development on the islands."
(d) Section 4 is amended by deleting the first sentence and inserting in lieu thereof the following: "The Task Force shall submit to the President a report on the actions it has taken to perform the functions set forth in section 3 no later than 1 year from the date of this order. The Task Force shall also report to the President, as appropriate, on other matters relating to the Task Force's responsibilities under this order.
Sec. 2. In furtherance of the policy set forth in section 1 of Executive Order 13494 of January 30, 2009, section 3 of that order is amended to read as follows: "Sec. 3. Contracting departments and agencies shall treat as allowable costs incurred in maintaining satisfactory relations between the contractor and its employees (other than the costs of any activities undertaken to persuade employees to exercise or not to exercise, or concerning the manner of exercising, the right to organize and bargain collectively), including costs of labor management committees, employee publications, and other related activities. See 48 C.F.R. 31.205-21."
Sec. 3. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
THE WHITE HOUSE,
October 30, 2009.
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