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Puerto Rico swears in new governor but Senate confirmation Wednesday

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Puerto Rico swears in new governor but Senate confirmation Wednesday
Pedro Pierluisi was sworn in as governor Friday despite the fact that the Senate won't confirm him until Wednesday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI  | License Photo

Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Puerto Rico swore in a new governor Friday even though he hasn't received final confirmation from the Senate.

Pedro Pierluisi's confirmation was ratified by the Puerto Rican House of Representatives on Friday but the Senate vote isn't expected until Wednesday. At a news conference, Pierluisi promised to resign if the Senate doesn't confirm his nomination.

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"If the Senate ratifies me, I will be governor until 2020," Pierluisi told El Nuevo Dia. "If the Senate does not ratify me, I will be governor until next Wednesday."

Pierluisi was nominated to secretary of state by outgoing governor Ricardo Rossello, which put him in line to succeed Rossello as governor. Rossello resigned under pressure after messages from him and his cabinet members were leaked. The messages attacked women, political opponents and victims of the hurricanes. Puerto Ricans took to the streets with violent protests, forcing Rossello to resign.

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Rossello, who defeated Pierluisi in 2016, said the House and Senate confirmation aren't needed, citing a 1952 law. Pierluisi confirmed he will let the other branches of government have their say.

"If the Senate ratifies my position there should be no more controversy," Pierluisi said.

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Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz tweeted Friday that lawmakers will approach this confirmation process "with the deepest sense of responsibility."

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If Pierluisi isn't confirmed, Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez Garced will be next in line to be governor. She has said previously she doesn't want the job but will follow the rule of law.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said she will file a lawsuit over Pierluisi's appointment saying he's a "self-appointed governor" and an "usurper." She plans to run for governor in 2020.

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