Hansen Stands By Words
Navy Continues Exercises
Clinton Lobbies For Referendum
House Schedules Vieques Hearing
Hansens Remarks About P.R. 'On Welfare' Backfire
Hansen Stands By Words
By Lee Davidson
June 21, 2001
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, is sticking by his guns and still insists that all Puerto Ricans are essentially on welfare -- because the territory "is a welfare state" that receives big federal money and where few are required to pay taxes.
Hansen created a stir last week during a National Public Radio interview about President Bush's decision to close a test and training range on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques amid protests about bombing there.
But Hansen wasn't too apologetic on Wednesday.
"It's a welfare state," he said. Puerto Rico receives $12 billion in direct federal expenditures despite paying no federal income tax.
He said Puerto Rico 's federal education spending, for example, is expected to be more than $630 million next year under a new education bill. That is more than 43 states receive and much more than the $71 million Utah is expected to receive.
Hansen said that with such benefits, Puerto Rico has responsibilities -- including helping with the national defense.
"But the governor down there wants it both ways," with no taxes and big benefits but not allowing bombing on Vieques , Hansen said.
Hansen added, "I feel the folks in Puerto Rico should carry their share. Their National Guard units even train in Oklahoma."
Hansen followed those comments by saying, however, "There are some great Americans down there, and they are very fine people."
US Navy Continues Vieques Bombing Exercises Amid Protests
June 21, 2001
VIEQUES , Puerto Rico (AP)--U.S. fighter jets resumed dropping inert bombs on the Vieques target range Thursday afternoon, Navy spokesman Bob Nelson said.
At least 47 protesters have been detained for trespassing this week, the Navy said. A group of seven cut through a Navy fence Wednesday night and were arrested.
Protesters have delayed the Navy's exercises, and Rabin said at least 20 protesters remained in restricted Navy lands Thursday.
On Wednesday, Navy jets on a bombing run turned back after protesters fired a flare near the range. Exercises were delayed for hours as Navy security detained two intruders and searched for others.
Sen. Clinton Lobbies To Hold Vieques Referendum As Planned
June 20, 2001
Washington - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (Dem.-NY) has criticized the measure to cancel the referendum on U.S. military maneuvers on the Puerto Rican municipality of Vieques , set for November, that was recommended in the Senate earlier this week.
"I say a referendum is more important than ever," Clinton said, in statements reported Wednesday, "because without an electoral mandate to require an end to the bombing, any administration expression of intent is nothing more than that: an expression of intent. Not a legal requirement."
"And 'intentions' can change at a moment's notice," said Clinton, who opposes Bush's plan to amend the law passed last year that requires the Pentagon to leave the future of the Navy missions in the hands of Vieques residents.
U.S. House Schedules Hearing On Vieques Decision.
June 20, 2001
WASHINGTON, June 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee on Wednesday scheduled a hearing for next week into the Navy's decision to end its controversial bombing exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques in May 2003.
Rep. Bob Stump, an Arizona Republican who chairs the panel, said the June 27 hearing will include Defense Department witnesses who will testify on the implications of closing the training facility, possible alternatives to the site and the process followed by the Navy in reaching the decision.
"Until the service makes a compelling argument for closing Vieques , I will remain convinced that its decision is a step in the wrong direction," Stump said in a statement.
The Pentagon plans to ask Congress to change a law requiring a November public referendum on Vieques to decide the training facility's future. The Navy says leaving a decision on naval training to a local referendum sets a bad precedent.
"If the Navy wants the committee's support on this matter, they must first prove that the closure of Vieques will not damage military readiness, does not set a precedent by which other nations and communities will force the U.S. military to withdraw from critical training facilities around the world, and that the decision to leave Vieques was made for military, not political, reasons," Stump said.
Hansen's Puerto Rico Remarks Backfire
June 20, 2001
Utah Rep. Jim Hansen is drawing fire for public comments suggesting Puerto Ricans protesting military bombing exercises on Vieques are "sitting down there on welfare" and don't deserve special treatment.
Hansen's office Tuesday insisted the comment -- broadcast nationwide last Thursday on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" news program -- was taken out of context and not intended as a slur on Puerto Rican residents.
But the statement by the 11-term Republican congressman was criticized by members of the Latino community, Utah Democrats and Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., a native of Puerto Rico reared in New York City.
"I'm very careful not to call anybody a racist -- that's a very strong word," Serrano said in a telephone interview. But he said the comments reflected an attitude that is disturbing.
James Yapias, head of the Utah Hispanic Advisory Council, called Hansen's remarks "amazing." "Comments like that just create divisiveness in our community," said Yapias. "That is a stereotype comment that divides us."
Serrano, in a letter to Hansen, said he found the remarks "disparaging and offensive."
Serrano noted that as an American citizen who was born in Puerto Rico , he was "personally offended" by the "harsh comments."
The 10-year New York congressman said he was not asking for a public apology "because that would be grandstanding. I would like him to say he now realizes that his comments were insensitive."
Hansen: Puerto Rico 'On Welfare'
June 19, 2001
NEW YORK (AP) - The Vieques dispute exploded on Capitol Hill Monday over a House Republican's comment that Puerto Rican protesters just "sit down there on welfare," the Daily News reported Tuesday.
Hansen told National Public Radio that Puerto Rico should not get "favorite treatment" over other parts of the country that accommodate military training ranges, the News said.
"They sit down there on welfare, and very few of them paying taxes, got a sweet-heart deal," Hansen reportedly said.
Bill Johnson, Hansen's legislative director, said Hansen had no reason to apologize.
"We don't get into games of political correctness," he told the News.
Johnson said Puerto Rico "is in fact a welfare state supported by the federal government."