We read an article this morning claiming that “Congress has debated over 152 bills addressing Puerto Rico’s status.” Since Puerto Rico was ceded by Spain to the United States in 1898, that would mean that there has been an average of one and one quarter Puerto Rico status bills debated in Congress each year since that time. We find this implausible.
But there have been a lot of Puerto Rico status bills, that’s for sure. How many?
Puerto Rico Status Act
The current bill is HR2757 and S3231. There is also S2944, Sen. Wicker’s version, which shares the name. The Puerto Rico Status Act calls for a federally-sponsored referendum on Puerto Rico’s political status and Congressional action following the vote.
All these bills had previous versions, including HR8393, which passed the House in 2022, S780, and S4560. That’s a total of six.
Puerto Rico Admission Act
This one wasn’t necessarily debated, but HR 1522 was a statehood bill. Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon introduced it in 2020, as Puerto Rico prepared for a statehood yes-or-no vote like the ones that Alaska and Hawaii held before they were admitted.
Gonzalez-Colon also introduced HR 260 and HR 6246.
Puerto Rico Self-determination Act
HR2070 and S865 were calls for a Constitutional Convention to discuss all versions of Puerto Rico’s political status, including the non-constitutional “enhanced commonwealth” and any other options anyone could imagine. It was trotted out in reaction to HR 1522. A similar bill with the same name was introduced by Rep. Nydia Velazquez in 2017. House and Senate versions were proposed in 2006. A Senate bill of this name was introduced in 1991 and another in 1989.
Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act
This was a statehood bill introduced by Rep. Jose Serrano. Rep. Darren Soto introduced HR 1965 under the same name. Earlier bills included HR 727, introduced by Resident Commissioner Pierluisi.
Puerto Rico Status Resolution Act
This was a Senate bill introduced by Martin Heinrich.
Puerto Rico Democracy Act
This bill gave Puerto Rico the same choice of status options as the Puerto Rico Status Act. Bills of the same name were introduced in the preceding year in both the House and the Senate. There was another version of this in 2006.
United States-Puerto Rico Political Status Act
HR856 was introduced by Rep. Don Young and passed in 1998. A companion bill passed the Senate. Four bills of this name were introduced in the House and the Senate in the 1995-96 Congress.
Puerto Rico Status Referendum Act
This bill called for a referendum giving a choice of statehood, independence, or “commonwealth.” Three bills with this title were introduced from 1989-91.
A bill to provide for referenda to resolve the political status of Puerto Rico, and for other purposes
Bills of this name were introduced in 1989 in the Houser and Senate.
A bill to provide for referenda and the development of enabling legislation regarding incorporation of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico into the Union as a State
This bill was introduced in the 100th Congress in 1987.
Puerto Rico Statehood Act
This was the statehood act of 1977.
A 1945 bill proposed independence for Puerto Rico. Sen. Tydings, the author of this bill, introduced a similar bill in 1936.
This makes 38 bills in total. That’s a far cry from 152, but it’s still too many. Reach out to your legislators and let them know that Puerto Rico is ready for the full rights and responsibilities of statehood.