Feeling Dissed, Puerto Rico Governor May Skip House Hearing

Governor is ‘demanding’ an ‘explicit, public apology’ from Natural Resources chairman over tweet

House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop is facing pushback from the governor of Puerto Rico over a tweet. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The governor of Puerto Rico is threatening to withdraw from a scheduled appearance before the House Natural Resources Committee after the panel posted a tweet his office said was “shameful,” “hostile” and “condescending.”

The committee deleted a tweet from its Twitter account July 19 about its invitation for Gov. Ricardo Rossello to testify at a July 25 hearing, following a request from the governor to have it removed. Rossello is a member of both the New Progressive Party and the Democratic Party.

The tweet said “Call your office, @RicardoRossello,” and had attached the committee’s invitation for testimony.

Responding to a tweet from a CBS News reporter about the deleted tweet, the committee responded that “Gov. @ricardorossello asked us to remove the tweet. Working in good faith we have chosen to respect his wishes.”

The committee has not responded to requests for further comment on the matter.

In a series of tweets Friday, the governor’s office said its director, Carlos Mercader, told the Natural Resources Committee to take down the tweet because it was “offensive,” and Rossello is “demanding” an “explicit, public apology” from Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop.

“Even though Puerto Rico does not have voting representation in Congress, @NatResources has jurisdiction over Puerto Rico. The Committee’s actions are hostile, condescending and show a lack of respect to the governor, the government and the people of Puerto Rico,” one tweet said.

Rossello said at a news conference the incident was evidence of Puerto Rico’s standing in Washington and such a tweet “never would have happened to the governor of Florida, Texas or New York.”

“What the House Committee on Natural Resources did yesterday showed a major lack of respect for me and the people of Puerto Rico,” he said. “If they’re going to joke around without seriousness, they can count us out.”

The hearing is expected to be on oversight of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the U.S. territory’s sole electricity provider, and various implications for recovery after it faced devastating storms in 2017.

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