IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
March 28, 2019
Mr. Merkley introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To establish a commission to develop proposals regarding voting representation for citizens of the United States who reside in a territory, commonwealth, or Federal District of the United States.
This Act may be cited as the
We the People Commission on Full Representation Act of 2019.
Definition of covered jurisdiction
In this Act, the term covered jurisdiction means—
the District of Columbia;
the United States Virgin Islands;
American Samoa; and
the Northern Mariana Islands.
Establishment of commission
There is established a commission to be known as the
We the People Commission on Full Representation (in this Act referred to as the
The Commission shall be composed of 10 members, appointed as follows:
Two members appointed by the President.
Two members appointed by the majority leader of the Senate.
Two members appointed by the minority leader of the Senate.
Two members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Two members appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives.
The Commission shall include not less than 1 member who represents each covered jurisdiction.
To represent a covered jurisdiction for purposes of subparagraph (A), an individual shall—
be a native of the jurisdiction;
be an elected representative of the jurisdiction;
have lived in the jurisdiction for a period of not less than 10 years; or
have expertise, such as academic expertise, on the jurisdiction.
Members of the Commission shall be appointed not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
Period of appointment
Members of the Commission shall be appointed for the life of the Commission.
A vacancy in the Commission shall be filled in the manner in which the original appointment was made.
The Commission shall hold its first meeting not later than 30 days after a majority of members are appointed to the Commission.
The Commission shall regularly meet at the call of the Chair. Such meetings may be carried out through the use of telephonic or other appropriate telecommunication technology if the Commission determines that such technology will allow the members to communicate simultaneously.
A majority of the members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum, but a lesser number of members may hold hearings.
The President shall designate a member of the Commission to be the Chair of the Commission.
Development of proposals
shall develop a proposal for each covered jurisdiction regarding voting representation for citizens of the United States who reside in that jurisdiction;
in a proposal for a covered jurisdiction under paragraph (1), may recommend—
any type of representation, including statehood or voting representation only in the House of Representatives; or
no representation; and
in determining under paragraph (1) whether and, if so, how a covered jurisdiction should be represented, shall consider—
whether the jurisdiction has held a referendum on achieving voting representation in the United States; and
the size of the jurisdiction.
Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Commission shall submit to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate, the Committee on Oversight and Reform of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Rules of the House of Representatives a report that contains the proposals developed under subsection (a).
Powers of Commission
The Commission may hold such hearings, sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, and receive evidence as the Commission considers advisable to carry out the responsibilities of the Commission.
Information from Federal agencies
The Commission may secure directly from any department or agency of the Federal Government such information as the Commission considers necessary to carry out the duties of the Commission.
Information from nongovernmental organizations
In carrying out its duties, the Commission may seek guidance through consultation with foundations, veteran service organizations, nonprofit groups, faith-based organizations, private and public institutions of higher education, and other organizations as the Commission determines appropriate.
Sense of Congress
It is the sense of Congress that the Commission should consult with nongovernmental organizations as authorized under paragraph (2).
The Commission may use the United States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as departments and agencies of the United States.
The Commission may accept, use, and dispose of gifts or donations of services or property.
Commission personnel matters
Compensation of members; travel expenses
Each member shall serve without pay but shall receive travel expenses to perform the duties of the Commission, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, at rates authorized under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code.
The Chair, in accordance with rules agreed upon by the Commission, may appoint and fix the compensation of a staff director and any other personnel that may be necessary to enable the Commission to carry out the functions of the Commission—
without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service; and
without regard to the provision of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5, United States Code, relating to classification and General Schedule pay rates, except that no rate of pay fixed under this paragraph may exceed the equivalent of that payable for a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of that title.
Detail of Government employees
Any Federal Government employee may be detailed to the Commission without reimbursement, and that detail shall be without interruption or loss of civil service status or privilege.
Personnel as Federal employees
The executive director and any personnel of the Commission shall be considered employees under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code, for purpose of chapters 63, 81, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, and 90 of that title.
Members of the Commission
Paragraph (1) shall not be construed to apply to members of the Commission.
The Commission shall keep an accurate and complete record of the actions and meetings of the Commission. The record shall be made available for public inspection and the Comptroller General of the United States may audit and examine the record.
The Commission may, to such extent and in such amounts as are provided in appropriation Acts, enter into contracts to enable the Commission to discharge the duties of the Commission under this Act.
Expert and consultant service
The Commission may procure the services of experts and consultants in accordance with section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, at rates not to exceed the daily rate paid to a person occupying a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code.
Physical facilities and equipment
Upon the request of the Commission, the Administrator of General Services shall provide to the Commission, on a reimbursable basis, the administrative support services necessary for the Commission to carry out its responsibilities under this Act. The administrative support services may include human resource management, budget, leasing accounting, and payroll services.
Termination of Commission
The Commission shall terminate 30 days after the date on which the Commission submits the report under section 4.
Authorization of appropriations
There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to the Commission to carry out this Act.
Any sums appropriated under the authorization contained in this section shall remain available, without fiscal year limitation, until expended.