The Island on the Hill: A Kingdonian Analysis of Congressional Decision-Making on the Puerto Rican Question
The two-fold purpose of the thesis is to: (1) advance a theoretical contribution to the study of congressional agenda-setting, and (2) add to the literature on Puerto Rican status politics. In the field of public policy, John Kingdon’s model has provided a durable explanation of how agendas and policy alternatives are developed in the United States and other democratic systems. A new generation of social scientists has added value to his work in what has been termed the Multiple Streams Approach (MSA). The application of Kingdon’s model to the Puerto Rican status issue between 1989 and 2017 reveals that while the model does much to explain why the issue falls of the congressional agenda, there is significant room to improve the model. Greater emphasis on variables such as House-Senate differences in the U.S. Congress, the history of the policy of commonwealth, and agenda denial improved the analytical power of the model. The unique constitutional framework of unincorporated territory since its acquisition by the United States from Spain in 1898 remains key to understanding Puerto Rico’s relationship with the federal government. The dissertation is a longitudinal single-unit case study focusing on two points: when the Puerto Rican status legislation was passed by the House, and then fell off the decision agenda in the Senate in 1998 and 2010. Senate bill 472 (S. 472) and House of Representatives bill 2499 (H.R. 2499) were shelved by the Senate in 1998 and 2010, respectively. In both cases, the reasons for this had to do with lack of Puerto Rican representation in the Senate and the Senate’s blocking Puerto Rican statehood in a display of agenda denial. Conservative Republican Senators would not support statehood. In these cases of the Senate’s rejection of companion legislation, the antiquated nature of the commonwealth, created by the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) and Congress in 1952, accounted in part for why the Puerto Rican status issue fell off the agenda. Congress did not accept the PPD’s definition of commonwealth as more than a territory.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/27976
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