A recent comment on our Facebook page said, “All Statehood supporters will continue begging…Congress to grant Puerto Rico Statehood no matter how many times they say NO!”

We don’t think “begging” is the right word. However, there is a more important inaccuracy here. Congress doesn’t exactly keep saying no to Puerto Rico statehood.

Congress has never voted on this issue.

Congress has abdicated responsibility

Congress has responsibility for Puerto Rico’s political status. The territory clause of the U.S. Constitution says that Congress will make all needful rules and regulations for U.S. territories. The Constitution also says that Congress can admit new states.

The result of these statements in the Constitution is that Congress is in charge of Puerto Rico’s political status. The Insular Cases, a series of decisions by the Supreme Court a century ago, make it possible for Congress to keep Puerto Rico as a territory indefinitely.

They don’t make it right.

Congress has in effect said no to Puerto Rico every day for more than a century by failing to admit Puerto Rico as a state.

However, Congress has actually never voted on the question of whether to admit Puerto Rico or not. They have never refused statehood to Puerto Rico.

Has Congress ever refused statehood?

Congress has never refused admission to Puerto Rico. Have they ever voted against admitting any territory as a state?

The proposed state of Sequoyah was denied, but Sequoyah was never a territory. Congress has never voted against the admission of any territory as a state.

President Andrew Johnson vetoed the admission of Colorado as a state in 1867. President Taft vetoed Arizona’s admission in 1911. (Obviously, both became states eventually.) But Congress has never refused any territory which demanded statehood.

What Congress has done many, many times in the past is to fail to vote on statehood admission bills.

Hawaii had 18 admission bills before one was voted on. Hawaii was admitted as a state.

Puerto Rico deserves a vote

Congress currently is considering two status votes for Puerto Rico. Both have been stuck in committee for months.

The bills, or a compromise bill if that is possible, should be voted on in Congress as soon as possible. Puerto Rico deserves a vote. Puerto Rico deserves statehood.

Please reach out to your congressperson and request support for HR1522, the Puerto Rico Statehood Admissions Bill.



One response

  1. Congress refusing to vote can simply be a way to avoid having to cast a rejection-vote, and in that way perhaps strengthening the independence movement. As long as Puerto Ricans feel that they haven’t been rejected their present status as a colony is far less offensive.

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