Puerto Rico's Governor brings own delegation to Congress, continues push for statehood

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- "Beginning of something very important," said Romero Barcelo, former Democratic governor of Puerto Rico.

Meet Puerto Rico's newest senator. Barcelo is one of the members of Puerto Rico's 'shadow' delegation. He's demanding a seat at the Congressional table.

"The idea of having a Tennessee plan is not a new one," said Gov. Ricardo Rossello, Democratic governor of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rossello appointed the delegation as a way to push towards statehood. Their attempt mirrors the Territory of Tennessee plan when they were petitioning for statehood. It worked for Tennessee and members of the delegation said it will work for them too.

"I think Congress will finally agree to the will of the people of Puerto Rico," said Charles Rodrigues, Democratic Shadow congressman.

In June voters went to the polls to decide whether or not to become a state. Jenniffer Gonzalez, Puerto Rico's non-voting member of Congress, said the island overwhelmingly voted for the statehood option.

"We've been fighting for this for years," Gonzalez added.

With the devastation from Hurricane Maria, shadow Congressman Alfonso Aguilar said there is no better time.

"If you want to help Puerto Rico you have to support statehood for Puerto Rico," Aguilar added.

While members of the shadow delegation said becoming a state will help with recovery from Hurricane Maria others in Congress said it's better to tackle recovery first then look to statehood.

A spokes person for the House Committee on Natural Resources, on which Rep. Gonzalez serves, gave this statement Thursday:

"The Committee remains committed to ensuring Puerto Rico receives the necessary support at the Federal level to overcome the devastating impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. This will remain our focus until these needs are met," Katie Schoettler, Deputy Press Secretary said.

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