A new statehood admission bill has been introduced in Congress and sent to the House Committee for Natural Resources. Will there be enough support for the bill to pass the House and Senate?
Certainly there will be hard work involved. But every day we see support for Puerto Rico statehood among lawmakers. Here are just a few recent examples.
Senator Jeff Merkley spoke up for Puerto Rico statehood at the Democratic Senate Latino Summit last week. “It’s time for Puerto Rico to be a state and have representation in the House of Representatives and the Senate,” the senator said, according to El Nuevo Dia.
The news source also reported that José Calderón, president of the Hispanic Federation, riposted, “The people of Puerto Rico will decide their political future.”
The people of Puerto Rico have already made this decision. They voted for statehood in 2012 and 2017. Polls show that the people of Puerto Rico continue to favor statehood, as do Americans in general. The elected government of Puerto Rico officially requested statehood in 2018. The next step is for Congress to respect the votes and take action.
“It is Congress that can change the course (of relations between Puerto Rico and the US)… Many members of Congress are still told from Puerto Rico and the states that the decision has to be made in Puerto Rico. To some extent, it is the right thing to do, but on the other hand, the decision is up to Congress … to tell Puerto Rico that these two are the two options: statehood or independence, ” said Congressman José Serrano. Congress has the power to admit Puerto Rico as a state by a simple majority vote. Usually, Congress wants a vote in the territory, but some territories have been admitted without asking the residents first.
Puerto Rico has had two votes for statehood. Some lawmakers, including Governor Wanda Vazquez, have called for another referendum. Funds for a federally-sponsored referendum were set aside by the Obama administration and have not been used. Many others have demanded that Congress make clear which status options will be acceptable to Congress.
In the past, “commonwealth” has won plebiscites in Puerto Rico, but has been rejected by Congress as unconstitutional. Asking voters to choose among ballot options and then rejecting those options makes a mockery of the plebiscites.
Rep. Rob Bishop said in the recent hearing on the PROMESA bill, “for me it’s is a pathway to statehood.” Bishop identified three goals associated with PROMESA:
- economic success
- government stability
- the path to statehood
He claimed that the proposed amendments to the PROMESA bill would not move Puerto Rico forward on these three essential goals.
Merkley, Serrano, and Bishop are just a few of many in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives who support statehood for Puerto Rico. Congress is busy, and even very important issues can be overlooked. Draw your representative’s attention to Puerto Rico’s demand for equality through statehood. Use the simple form on this website, which lets you send an email to your rep even if you don’t know their name. You can also tweet to your rep, or visit them. They want to hear from you.
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