Many people including Rep. Darren Soto and Rep. Raul Grijalva, expected HR 8393, The Puerto Rico Status Act, to get a vote in Congress before the end of September. Now it seems as though that might not happen.
Here’s a quick recap. Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States for over a century. In 1917, Puerto Ricans gained statutory citizenship through the Jones-Shafroth Act. In 1952, Congress approved Puerto Rico’s constitution. These two things are normally steps toward statehood. However, Puerto Rico has still not been admitted as a state, in spite of three votes in favor of statehood during this century.
The Puerto Rico Statehood Bill got skewered by “commonwealth” supporters’ bill proposing a lengthy new process for Puerto Rico self determination, ignoring the fact that Puerto Rico has already chosen statehood through a democratic process. The authors of the two bills got together and negotiated a compromise bill, HR 8393, which gives Puerto Rico voters a choice among three options:
- free association
In July, the Committee on Natural Resources held hearings in Puerto Rico, marked up the bill, and introduced it in the House.There is little question about what will happen if the bill is passed: Puerto Rico will vote once again for statehood and Puerto Rico will finally be admitted as the 51st state.
This is not what “commonwealth” supporters want. If the bill does not get a vote in Congress, Puerto Rico will continue to be a territory. To avoid this, and finally achieve a permanent political status, Congress needs to vote on HR 8393.
One way that a bill can get to the floor of the house so it can be debated, amended if necessary, and voted upon, is to have enough congressional representatives put their names in as cosponsors to show that the bill is important to Congress.
HR 8393 currently has 34 cosponsors. This includes a group of Democrats who signed on on the 12th of August:
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, D.C.
Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois
Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts
Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas
Rep. Anna Eshoo of California
Rep. Sylvia Garcia, of Texas
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida
Rep. David Trone of Maryland
Rep. John B. Larson of Connecticut
We want to extend our thanks to these brave men and women who are standing up for Puerto Rico’s civil rights. If you see your representative on this list, please thank them. If you don’t see yours, please ask them to cosponsor HR 8393.
It is time — it is past time — to resolve the political status of Puerto Rico.