House Hearing on Puerto Rico

On April 14th, the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to examine two bills which affect Puerto Rico.

The first is HR 1522,  the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Process Act.

HR 1522 calls for Congress to offer statehood to Puerto Rico. Voters in the territory would then have the chance to ratify the offer with an up or down vote on statehood for Puerto Rico. Like the votes in Alaska and Hawaii, which also asked for a simple yes or no, this vote would resolve the question of statehood. If Puerto Rico votes again for statehood, HR 1522 also lays out a path for accomplishing it.

The other bill, HR 2070, calls for a status convention with delegates elected in Puerto Rico. These delegates, with the advice and counsel of a special Congressional commission, would come up with an unlimited number of status options which would all be on a ranked-choice referendum ballot in Puerto Rico. If voters choose one of those options, Congress will be asked to ratify the vote.

What’s the difference between the bills?

HR 1522 recognizes and respects the votes already conducted in Puerto Rico and asks Congress to take specific action in response to the 2020 referendum. It is designed to complete the process toward statehood by presenting a binding vote for or against statehood to end the current territorial status. Within one to two years, with the approval of the voters, the bill would admit Puerto Rico as a state of the Union.

HR 2070 offers a lengthy, nonbinding process which ignores Puerto Rico’s democratic acts of self-determination, including the 2020 referendum. It does not define any status options, nor does it include any mechanism to avoid putting non-viable options on the ballot. It gives Congress the option of ratifying the Puerto Rico vote, but doesn’t ( and can’t) require Congress to do so. If Congress fails to take action, HR 2070 says Puerto Rico can try again. This process is expected to take years, but there is no timeline.

HR 1522 will bring statehood for Puerto Rico. HR 2070 could also result in statehood; however, it starts the process over, fails to respect the decisions already made by Puerto Rico’s voters, and has no guarantees.

Tell your representatives that you want them to support HR 1522.

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