Image courtesy of the Puerto Rican Cultural Institute
Tulio Larrínaga of Puerto Rico worked as a civil engineer both before and after his service in the House.
On this date, former Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Tulio Larrínaga
was born just south of San Juan in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. Larrínaga trained as a civil engineer and helped modernize Puerto Rico’s infrastructure before serving in the U.S. House from the 59th–61st Congresses (1905–1911). At the time, House Rules limited Larrínaga’s legislative powers, but he used his connections on Capitol Hill to pursue his agenda. In particular, Larrínaga made a special effort to protect the Puerto Rico Regiment, U.S. Volunteer Infantry. On behalf of the Resident Commissioner, John Hull
of Iowa, chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs, introduced H.R.18618, which sought to add the volunteer regiment to the Regular Army. The measure passed with a small majority (129 yeas, 80 nays, 4 present, and 174 not voting), but it took Larrínaga three attempts to convince the House to concur with the Senate’s amendments. President Theodore Roosevelt signed the final bill into law on May 27, 1908, officially incorporating the Puerto Rico regiment into the U.S. Army (35 Stat. 392 1902–1909). Larrínaga also used his experience as an engineer to promote infrastructure projects in Puerto Rico and won a $657,000 appropriation for dredging projects in San Juan Harbor. After his congressional service, Larrinaga returned to Puerto Rico, where he resumed his engineering career and stayed active in local politics. He died on April 28, 1917.