A number of points in The Puerto Rico Status Act were clarified before the bill was introduced in Congress. The discussion draft version of the bill was vague on matters of citizenship and taxation, and these points needed to be sorted put before the bill could go to the House for a vote.
Statehood didn’t need many changes. We already have 50 states, and we know how statehood works. New states are admitted on an equal footing with the existing states. What’s more, the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution says specifically that anything not covered by the Constitution is up to the individual states.
The description of statehood is simple because statehood is already clearly laid out and understood. It doesn’t require negotiation or adaptation.
This hasn’t stopped anti-statehood factions from trying to complicate it. The former president of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark Viverito, for example, wrote a letter to Nancy Pelosi asking her to delay the vote on The Puerto Rico Status Bill to hold more hearings and to determine whether Puerto Rico will have its own Olympic team after statehood or will use Spanish in schools.
The 10th amendment
The 10th amendment to the Constitution says this: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The Constitution has a lot to say about a lot of subjects, but it never mentions the Olympics. It says nothing about language or about education. Therefore the states can make their own decisions on these matters.
Actually, the International Olympics Committee makes the decisions about the Olympics.
But most other decisions about states are made by the states.
The important thing about Mark Viverito’s letter is not that it asked about the language or the Olympics. The main point was to ask for a delay on the vote for The Puerto Rico Statehood Act. Those who hope for some other resolution to Puerto Rico’s status, including maintaining the current unincorporated territory status, may claim that they want self-determination.
But they know as well as we do that the majority of voters in Puerto Rico want statehood. Once Puerto Rico becomes a state, the misty dreams of someday convincing people to choose independence or enhanced commonwealth or free association must end. Statehood is permanent.
Keeping Puerto Rico in political limbo allows those dreams to continue. Please contact your congressional representatives today and ask them to support The Puerto Rico Statehood Act. Ask your friends and relatives living in the states to do the same. We are closer to statehood than every before.