Presidential candidate Jay Inslee supports statehood for Puerto Rico, according to Vox and the Washington Post. Vox may be the more important of the two, because their David Roberts is the source for Inslee’s clearest statement on the subject: “I’ve always supported statehood for Puerto Rico and DC.”
Inslee also responded, “I think it’s the right thing” when asked about statehood for Puerto Rico and D.C. on Pod Save America.
Inslee’s website doesn’t mention Puerto Rico, and he has not yet made an official statement on the territory, but he does provide clear answers when asked the question.
Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.
Inslee’s mentions of statehood have been about Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., together. They’re actually separate issues.
Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. Until the idea of unincorporated territories came about, a territory of the United States was always viewed as a state in the making. Territories, once they had a large and settled population, became states. It might take a while and there might be issues to overcome, but a territory was always seen as a place on the way to statehood.
In a series of court cases early in the 20th century, the Supreme Court decided that some territories could remain territories “indefinitely” — that is, forever. However, Congress can make Puerto Rico a state at any time with a simple majority vote.
Washington, D.C., is not a territory. It is a federal district. The point of putting the capital of the nation in a federal district was to make sure that all the states remained equal. If the capital were in a state, the founding fathers thought, it would give that state some serious advantages over other states.
There is currently a bill in Congress for D.C. statehood, HR 51. This bill would keep “federal buildings and monuments, including the principal federal monuments, the White House, the Capitol Building, the U.S. Supreme Court Building, and the federal executive, legislative, and judicial office buildings located adjacent to the Mall and the Capitol Building” as Washington, District of Columbia, and admit the rest as the state of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth.
The bill also includes consideration of the repeal of the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution.
Both D.C. and Puerto Rico have requested statehood, but their situations are not the same.
Inslee’s top issue is climate change. Like Puerto Rico’s Governor Rossello, Inslee has committed his state to renewable energy. Most of his attention for Puerto Rico focuses on this issue, too.