Puerto Rico's governor Rosselló resigns, new governor sworn in

Sunday, August 4, 2019

File photo of Pedro Pierluisi
Image: Office of the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico.

On Friday, Ricardo Rosselló Nevares resigned as the governor of United States commonwealth of Puerto Rico and Pedro Pierluisi was sworn in at 5 p.m. local time (2100 UTC) as Puerto Rico's new governor. The Puerto Rican constitution stipulates the secretary of state succeeds to the governorship following a vacancy, but the post remained unfilled until Pierluisi was appointed to the position.

The exiting governor Rosselló appointed Pierluisi as secretary of state. Earlier on Friday, the commonwealth's House of Representatives confirmed him, but the Senate had not confirmed him. The constitution requires both houses of the Legislative Assembly to confirm nominees.

Pierluisi said from LA Fortaleza's Hall of Mirrors, "If the Senate confirms me, I will be governor until 2020. If the Senates does not confirm me, I will be governor until next Wednesday." ((es))Spanish language: ‍Si el Senado me ratifica, seré gobernador hasta el 2020. Si el Senado no me ratifica, seré gobernador hasta el próximo miércoles The Senate was set to meet on Wednesday, but at nearly the same time as Pierluisi's comments, the Senate announced it would meet on Monday.

Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz expressed opposition to the swearing-in of Pierluisi, and suggested there were not enough votes in the Senate for his confirmation. One senator, Eduardo Bhatia, said he intended to sue over the controversy. Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of the capitol city of San Juan, said she would challenge Pierluisi's oath of office in court.

Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez Garced, the would-be successor should Pierluisi remain unconfirmed by the Senate, has expressed she is uninterested in taking up the office of governor but would do so if she did succeed to it, according to Reuters.

Pierluisi is the former Puerto Rican non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. While Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States, it is not a state and does not get representation in the U.S. Senate, a vote in the U.S. House, nor any vote in the U.S. Electoral College that elects the U.S. President.

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