Radio New Zealand International
The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI) Senate Floor Leader, Pete Reyes, says they want their votes in the US Congress to be more than just symbolic. CNMI, Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia are allowed only to vote in committee.They have no voting rights during final deliberations of legislation that may affect their respective jurisdictions.
Mr Reyes has proposed to request that the United States congress allow their delegate to have voting rights on legislation that affects the CNMI (similar legislation was earlier introduced in the Legislature of Guam - OTR).
He says the delegates should be able to have a say in how their country is governed by the US. "Their participation is purely ceremonial, because they don’t have to listen to us. We are not voting on the bill, we don’t vote on the bill to make sure that those bills represent the true interests of the commonwealth.
But if we have a voting member in the US Congress then we can stand up on the floor and defend any legislation that has a negative impact on our economy."
Senator Reyes says recent legislation further federalising CNMI has proven damaging to the territory.