Tennessee, the first territory to join the Union, repeatedly petitioned for statehood despite the absence of federal support. They had fought in the Revolutionary War and wanted to become a state, but Congress was being too slow.
Tired of delays and Congress's lack of interest, Tennessee decided to act. They held votes where a clear majority of the electorate favored statehood, established a constitutional government as a State of the Union, and boldly selected Senators and Representatives to the U.S. Congress before their formal admission into the Union, and sent them to Washington to demand their seats and the admission of their territory into the Union as a state.
After pressure from the delegation and the territorial government, Congress had no choice but to admit Tennessee as the 16th State of the Union. Since then, six territories have pursued the same Tennessee strategy and became U.S. states. Now, Puerto Rico seeks to join the Union by way of its first Statehood Commission (Commission).
The Commission was announced by Governor Ricardo Rosselló on July 10th, 2017 and is a committee of 7 representatives of the Government of Puerto Rico created to execute the “Tennessee Plan” in order facilitate Puerto Rico’s admittance into United States statehood. The Commission will serve as the “Congressional Delegation” from Puerto Rico to the U.S. Congress (2 Senators and 5 Representatives) and will increase U.S. support for statehood through educating Congress, the Executive Branch and White House, and the national public.
The Commission is comprised of 7 members: 3 Republicans, 3 Democrats, and 1 independent.
The Republican members of the Commission are former Governor Luis Fortuño, National Committeewoman Zoraida Fonalledas, and retired Maj. Gen. Félix Santoni.
The Democratic members of the commission are former Governors Pedro Rosselló González and Carlos Romero Barceló, and former state Senate President Charlie Rodríguez.
The independent member of the commission is Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez.