Puerto Rico voters will be turning out soon November 3 to vote for the Governor and Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, but just as importantly they will have their first opportunity to vote in a yes/no choice for statehood. Statehood won in the plebiscites of 2012 and 2017, and is expected to carry the day this November as well.
As we saw in 2012 and 2017, however, voting for statehood doesn’t mean that Puerto Rico will automatically become a state. Congress must vote to admit Puerto Rico as a state before Puerto Rico can become a state.
A plebiscite or referendum is a means of consulting with the people and finding out what they want. Plebiscites are nearly always nonbinding.
Many of the current 50 states voted against statehood at some point in their histories. When they were ready, they voted for statehood, and eventually were admitted as states. But, while it is a good thing that a territory can vote on statehood repeatedly, it is not necessarily a good thing that Congress can ignore those votes repeatedly.
Congress has a lot on its plate, and might not bother to vote on statehood for Puerto Rico in a timely manner. We would even say that some members of Congress are still confused about Puerto Rico statehood. The 2020 referendum must not suffer the same fate as the 2012 and 2017 votes.
The Soto Resolution asks Congress to take action
Rep. Darren Soto has introduced House Resolution 1113 to solve the problem. This resolution calls on Congress to commit to action on the vote.
That the House of Representatives
(1) declares that the Congress and the President will have a duty to act in 2021 on the self-determination choice of the people of Puerto Rico if the plebiscite chooses statehood;
(2) recognizes that implementation legislation will need to include measures to phase-in the equal treatment of the territory and its residents in Federal laws; and
(3) states that such measures should implement equality for Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans as expeditiously as reasonably possible.
If you are wondering why this duty will only be required if the voters choose statehood, it’s because a No vote on statehood will mean no change. Puerto Rico will continue to be an unincorporated territory of the United States, just as she is now.
If the voters choose Yes, however, this resolution will require Congress to take action on the will of the people.
These members of Congress have already committed to take action on the vote:
If you see your congressperson on this list, please than him/her for making that decision.
If your representative is not on the list, please reach out and ask him or her to step up and support the Soto Resolution.