Florida Lawmakers Support Statehood for Puerto Rico

Republican Congressman Mario Diaz Balart supports statehood for Puerto Rico. So does Democratic Representative Donna Shalala. Shalala sent out an email blast to her constituents asking whether they agree with her.

“Unable to vote in national elections and lacking voting members in Congress,” the email ran, “the people of Puerto Rico are excluded from the benefits of being United States citizens.”

Shalala’s website’s page on Puerto Rico says, “I believe that the question of statehood should be solely up to the voters of Puerto Rico, and the federal government must honor their preference. I personally hope that they choose statehood, so Puerto Ricans have full voting rights and representation.”

Puerto Rico voted for statehood in 2012 and 2017.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy was one of the original co-sponsors of the Puerto Rico Statehood Admissions Act of 2019. “For more than 120 years,” she said, “Puerto Rico’s status as a U.S. territory has deprived island residents of democracy and equality.” Rep. Darren Soto proposed an earlier statehood bill for Puerto Rico in March of 2019. While his bill differed from HR4901 in some details, Soto also co-sponsored the later bill.

Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is another Floridian supporter of statehood for the U.S. territory. In all, there are 12 Floridian Members of Congress co-sponsoring HR4901, the Puerto Rico Statehood Admissions Act of 2019:

  • Rep. Soto, Darren [D-FL-9]
  • Rep. Murphy, Stephanie N. [D-FL-7]
  • Rep. Waltz, Michael [R-FL-6]
  • Rep. Diaz-Balart, Mario [R-FL-25]
  • Rep. Crist, Charlie [D-FL-13]
  • Rep. Shalala, Donna E. [D-FL-27]
  • Rep. Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [D-FL-23]
  • Rep. Posey, Bill [R-FL-8]
  • Rep. Demings, Val Butler [D-FL-10]
  • Rep. Hastings, Alcee L. [D-FL-20
  • Rep. Spano, Ross [R-FL-15]
  • Rep. Bilirakis, Gus M. [R-FL-12]

This is just under half the state’s delegation.

The Florida legislature passed a resolution in favor of Puerto Rico statehood in 2018. Florida’s Democratic Party passed such a resolution last year.

Floridian senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, both supporters of statehood, pressed for funding to clean up after the recent earthquakes in Puerto Rico.

Florida now has the largest population of people hailing from Puerto Rico of any of the 50 states. A 2019 Politico poll of Puerto Rican voters in Florida found that 77% of respondents preferred statehood for Puerto Rico and 97% said the issue would be important for them in the 2020 presidential election.

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