In a major step forward Tuesday, greatly increasing the likelihood of eventual enactment, the U.S. House of Representatives passed V.I. Delegate Stacey Plaskett’s bill creating a V.I. centennial commission, paving the way for Congress to assist in raising the national profile of the upcoming anniversary of Transfer Day.
The legislation, H.R. 2615, calls for a bipartisan Congressional commission to research, plan, develop and carry out commemorative activities related to the 100th anniversary of the Virgin Islands becoming part of the United States.
In March, the bill was approved in committee. This week, it passed the U.S. House of Representatives, which approved it by a two-thirds majority in a voice vote, sending it on to the U.S. Senate. If approved there, it goes to the U.S. president to sign.
“The history of the Virgin Islands and its people is profound, but at the time of the transfer, little thought was given to our history and even less to the people of the Virgin Islands. This commission will be a vehicle to have meaningful dialogue around the Virgin Islands’ history with the United States, the genesis of the issues currently affecting the territory and how we solve them,” Plaskett said.
Once formed, the commission will have the ability to elicit resources to not only assist in carrying out commemorative activities but also in spearheading further historical research and educational initiatives relating to the transfer.
Plaskett said that she expects the work and the influence of the commission to lead to a heightened national awareness to the history, culture and contributions of the Virgin Islands and its people to the United States through Smithsonian exhibits and other educational initiatives.
The eight-member commission will comprise:
– the assistant secretary of the interior for insular affairs or a designee of the assistant secretary;
– one member appointed by the V.I. governor of the Virgin Islands of the United States;
– two members of the House of Representatives appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives;
-one member of the House of Representatives appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives;
– two members of the Senate appointed by the majority leader of the Senate;
– and one member of the Senate appointed by the minority leader of the Senate.