Public Law and Policy > Policy Regarding U.S. Territories

The United States territories face a special challenge before the federal government because they lack voting representation. The five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands) cannot vote for president, have no representation in the Senate and each has only one nonvoting delegate in the House of Representatives. Despite this significant handicap, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP has achieved notable success in its representations of private entities based or doing business in the U.S. territories.

Working in conjunction with representative offices, Akin Gump has gained bipartisan support from numerous government officials, both in Congress and the administration, to advance the goals of corporations and universities in the U.S. territories. Our lawyers and advisors appreciate the subtleties of legislative drafting and know from experience the numerous ways that U.S. territories can be treated inequitably in federal law—or omitted altogether. We anticipate these problems and address them preemptively, often creating strong coalitions with a small community of like-minded interests to advance the needs of entities in the territories.

Akin Gump lawyers and advisors have not only advanced client interests before the House Natural Resources Committee and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which have primary jurisdiction over the territories, but our depth and breadth of knowledge and experience concerning matters such as tax and health policy have enabled Akin Gump to represent territorial interests before committees of wider jurisdiction, such as Senate Finance, House Ways and Means and House Energy and Commerce.

We worked closely with members and staff on Capitol Hill and administration officials on the Affordable Care Act to ensure that Puerto Rico received an equitable share of the law’s Medicaid resources and that new federal benefits were consistent among all U.S. citizens regardless of whether they lived in a state or a territory. Akin Gump lawyers and advisors were also effective in advocating for the inclusion of certain economic policies in the 2011 White House Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status. Working with the White House, Members of Congress and the advocacy community, we obtained the inclusion of a critical tax policy recommendation to help working families in Puerto Rico.